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History of Whaling and Estimated Kill of Right Whales, Balaena glacialis, in the Northeastern United States, 1620-1924.

Introduction

This study of shore whaling for right whales, Balaena glacialis(1) (Fig. 1), along the U.S. east coast is part of a broad review of the history of right whaling in the western North Atlantic. Previously, Reeves and Mitchell surveyed whale charts (1983) and compiled catch data for shore whaling on Long Island, N.Y. (1986a), American pelagic whaling in the North Atlantic (1986b), and shore whaling in North Carolina (1988). Reeves and Barto (1985) reviewed the scant information on shore and pelagic whaling in the Bay of Fundy, a present-day summering ground for right whales. Other authors have discussed the large 16th and 17th century Basque hunts for balaenids, including both right whales and bowhead whales, Balaena mysticetus (Cumbaa, 1986), in the Strait of Belle Isle and along the Labrador coast (Barkham, 1984; Aguilar, 1986; Proulx, 1993; Ross, 1993). New England whalers are said to have killed "a good many" right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the 18th century (Wakeham, 1913), although the species composition and size of their catches have yet to be properly evaluated (cf. Mitchell and Reeves, 1983).

[Figure 1 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The main objective of our catch-history studies has been to assess early distribution and abundance. An ultimate goal is to improve understanding of the population history and contribute to analyses of trends. Although it is unlikely that the carrying capacity for right whales would be the same at present as it was in the mid 17th century when American whaling began, we have no reliable means of estimating either the direction or magnitude of change in carrying capacity through time. It is possible that aspects of the environment are better for right whales now than they were at some other times during the past 400 years. It is usually assumed, however, that human activities have altered conditions in a mainly negative way and that the coastal marine environment off eastern North America is capable of supporting fewer right whales now than was the case in pre-modern times (Katona and Kraus, 1999). We believe that a minimum estimate of pre-exploitation population size can be useful in designing and assessing recovery efforts. In its Final Recovery Plan for the northern right whale, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Right Whale Recovery Team indicates that the establishment of recovery goals and the evaluation of progress toward them "should be based on pre-exploitation numbers, if possible" (NMFS, 1991:40). The plan further urges that such "numbers" be refined through historical research in addition to that available in 1991. Our goal is to use the present compilation, along with other related studies, for a comprehensive reconstruction of the catch history and a more rigorous estimate of the population size in the 17th century (Reeves et al.(2)).

The catch history of the North Atlantic right whale is difficult to reconstruct due, in large part, to the antiquity of the whaling enterprise (Fig. 2). According to Allen (1916), right whales had already become scarce in New England by about 1725 due to overhunting. Much of the whaling for right whales before and after that date (Fig. 3 and 4) was undocumented or poorly documented. Some of the documentation that did exist has been lost or destroyed. What survived is often difficult to find and interpret.

[Figures 2-4 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The geographic emphasis of the present paper is on the New England and mid-Atlantic states from Maine to Delaware (from about lat. 45 [degrees] N to 38 [degrees] 30'N) (Fig. 2 and 5). The temporal focus is from 1620, the year of the Mayflower's arrival near present-day Provincetown, Mass., to 1918, when the last right whale was struck at Long Island, N.Y. Our intention is to document as fully as possible the kill of right whales off the eastern United States from the early 1600's to 1924, when the last Long Island whaler retired (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a).

[Figure 5 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Schevill et al. (1986) compared the frequency of right whale sightings off Cape Cod for 1955-81 to the frequency of records listed by Allen (1916) for the period 1620-1913. They concluded that right whales did not appear to be greatly reduced in numbers in New England during the recent period when compared to data from 350 years previously: "The population of right whales passing near Cape Cod is at worst only slightly smaller now than it was in the 17th century" (Schevill et al., 1986). That conclusion runs counter to the widely held belief that the western North Atlantic population remains severely depleted and has failed to recover (Mitchell, 1975; Reeves et al., 1978; Mead, 1986; Gaskin, 1987; Kraus et al., 1988).

Gaskin (1991) used the analysis by Schevill et al. (1986) to support the hypothesis that right whales summering in the Bay of Fundy and Roseway Basin areas are a deme or "substock" of the more widely distributed western North Atlantic population. A supposed preference for deeper shelf water would have allowed this group to at least partially escape "the full pressures of colonial whaling" (Gaskin, 1991). Gaskin argued that because they remained south of Cabot Strait in summer, these whales also would not have been subjected to exploitation by the early Basque whalers to the north. This interesting hypothesis is not supported by the evidence of long-distance movements by individuals (e.g. from the Scotian Shelf to Denmark Strait and from the southeastern United States to the Labrador Basin (Knowlton et al., 1992)). However, surviving founders may have contributed to a drift toward reclusive behavior in the current population.

Materials and Methods

We made an extensive literature search, including sources cited by Starbuck (1878), Clark (1887), True (1904), Allen (1908), Allen (1916), Edwards and Rattray (1932), Weiss et al. (1974), and Lipton (1975). Many more sources were identified in whaling museum indexes and our own files. A sample of newspapers was searched systematically using indexes whenever possible (Table 1).

Table 1.--A sample of newspapers searched for Information on right whale catches.
Newspaper                      Town or city, state

Daily Eagle                    Brooklyn, N.Y.
Herald                         New York, N.Y.
Evening Post                   New York, N.Y.
Tribune                        New York, N.Y.
Times                          New York, N.Y.
Morning News                   Savannah, Ga.
Journal                        Nantucket, Mass.
Inquirer                       Nantucket, Mass.
Inquirer and Mirror            Nantucket, Mass.
Whalemen's Shipping List and
  Merchants' Transcript        New Bedford, Mass.
The Whaleman                   New Bedford, Mass.
Reporter and Seaman's
  Weekly Visitor               New Bedford, Mass.
Pioneer                        Mystic, Conn.

Newspaper                      Years checked            Indexed

Daily Eagle                    1891-1902                  Yes
Herald                         1913-1918 (incomplete)     Yes
Evening Post                   1873-1921 (incomplete)     Yes
Tribune                        1862-1865, 1875-1906       Yes
Times                          1851-1893, 1905-1924       Yes
Morning News                   1850-1875                  Yes
Journal                        1884-1897                  No
Inquirer                       1822-1864                  No
Inquirer and Mirror            1870-1891                  No
Whalemen's Shipping List and
  Merchants' Transcript        1843-1914                  No
The Whaleman                   1854                       No
Reporter and Seaman's
  Weekly Visitor               1846-1847                  No
Pioneer                        1859-1861                  No


Allen's (1916) review of baleen whales in New England included a search of at least the Nantucket Journal (1878-99), Nantucket Inquirer (1822-64), and Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror (1867-1909), and apparently some issues of the Provincetown Advocate, Boston Journal, Boston Daily Globe, Forest and Stream, Boston Semi-Weekly Advertiser, Newburyport Herald, Boston Gazette, and Barnstable Patriot. We made our own search of the Nantucket newspapers (most of the right whale data for New York was reported by Reeves and Mitchell (1986a)) and checked some issues of newspapers from other areas where whaling was known or suspected to have occurred. In these searches, we gave special attention to periods immediately preceding or following dates on which whaling events had been reported. Some manuscripts, including correspondence, diaries, and account books of companies and individuals involved in shore whaling, were checked at whaling museums, historical societies, and local libraries in New England.

One of us (Reeves) examined customs records of the London Board of Trade for information on whale products imported to Great Britain from the American colonies, including Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland (Reeves and Mitchell, 1988), Pennsylvania, New York, New Providence, New England, Newfoundland, the Bermudas (Fig. 6), and the West Indies, as well as "prize goods" taken by British vessels from captured ships. These and other manuscript records in the Public Record Office, Kew, London, supplemented the catch data from published sources. We assumed that all of the oil and baleen attributed to the American colonies in the British customs records through 1735 came from whales killed (or found dead from natural causes) in the western North Atlantic.

[Figure 6 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The British customs records give product quantities in units that are not all familiar today: oil in tuns (abbreviated as "T"), hogsheads (Hh), and gallons (gal); baleen (whalebone or whale "fins") in hundredweight (cwt), quarters (qtr), and pounds (lb). With the exception of the blubber returns from Newfoundland, all of the relevant values for oil are given as liquid (volume) measures (Fig. 7, 8). Lindquist (1992) provided a valuable review of old whale oil measurements, and we have used his equivalents as standards. Thus, we have assumed that tuns (or T in some records) represent 252 gallons. The gallon was not standardized until 1707 (during the period with which we are concerned, 1697-1734), before which time its size usually varied between 224 cubic inches (3.671 liters) and 282 cubic inches (4.621 liters). In 1707 it was standardized (as "Queen Anne's gallon," which is the same as today's U.S. standard gallon) at 231 cubic inches (3.785 liters). This means that our production data pre-1707 are approximate, while those from 1707 onward are more exact. It should be noted that the imperial standard gallon was not established in the United Kingdom until 1825. A hogshead was a quarter of a tun (63 gallons), and the gallons were assumed to be "Queen Anne's gallons." The weight measures were assumed to be straightforward: a hundredweight representing 112 lb (50.8 kg), a quarter being 28 lb (12.7 kg), and a lb being the standard 16 ounces (0.45 kg). An oil cask or barrel was defined in 1675 (General Court of Assizes, New York) as containing 31.5 gallons (Edwards and Rattray 1932:274-275), so we assumed throughout this paper that barrels contained 31.5 (U.S.) gallons of oil.

[Figures 7-8 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Estimates of average yield are required for converting amounts of oil or baleen to estimates of whales caught. We used the available data on yields from various parts of the North Atlantic to obtain such estimates (Table 2). The values used for conversions (44 barrels of oil and 647 lb of baleen per whale) are similar to those used by Reeves and Mitchell (1986a, b) but are substantially different from those used by Best (1987). The latter author estimated average yields for right whales of 67 barrels of oil and 563 lb of baleen based on samples of 3,080 and 884 whales, respectively. These large samples included whales from the Southern Hemisphere and the North Atlantic but not the North Pacific.

Table 2.--Yields of oil and baleen estimated from North Atlantic catch data.(1)
                                              Oil (bbl)

Area                           Period    N(2)   Mean   SE(3)

Northeast U.S. shore-based   1725-1895     24    53     5.5
Long Island                  1707-1918     69    34     1.6
Southeast U.S. pelagic       1875-1882     16    58     4.7
Southeast U.S. shore-based   1874-1916      7    38     3.6
Cape Farewell                1868-1886      9    66     9.0
Cintra Bay                   1856-1880     12    55     7.9

All areas combined                        137    44     1.9

                                Baleen (lb)

Area                          N   Mean    SE      Source(4)

Northeast U.S. shore-based    9    698   136        A
Long Island                   5    659   126        B
Southeast U.S. pelagic       15    676    44        C
Southeast U.S. shore-based    7    539    93        D
Cape Farewell                 4    600    --(5)     C
Cintra Bay                   --     --    --        C

All areas combined           40    647    40(6)


(1) Generally not including values reported as "expected" yields.

(2) N = number of whales.

(3) SE = Standard error of the mean.

(4) A = This paper, B = Reeves and Mitchell (1986a), C = Reeves and Mitchell (1986b), D = Reeves and Mitchell (1988).

(5) Data were reported as 2,400 lb obtained from 4 whales; no information on individual yields.

(6) SE = 45 if the Cape Farewell sample is not included.

Newspaper reports often referred to expected, rather than realized, yields of oil and baleen. Usually, but not always, the estimates of yield prior to flensing proved to have been upwardly biased. Whalemen and newspaper reporters were often overly optimistic about how much a whale would produce. For example, a 40 foot (12.2 m) right whale taken off Amagansett (Long Island, N.Y.) in February 1897 was expected to produce 30 barrels of oil and 600-700 lb of baleen (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a, their Table 1), but it actually produced only 18 bbl and 375 lb (our Table 7, below). Although we tried to eliminate untrustworthy reports from our sample, the estimated averages in Table 2 are probably influenced by this bias to some degree. We suspect that, in some cases, there was also a tendency to report the yields of exceptionally large whales and to leave out any mention of yield when describing unremarkable whales. The effect of both types of bias (exaggerated reporting and selective reporting) would have been to cause an over-estimation of average yield, and, in turn, an underestimation of the number of whales taken. For reasons explained in the Results section, no catches were estimated from the British import data from New Providence, Newfoundland, the Bermudas, the West Indies, or "prize goods."

Table 7.--Information on Long Island shore whaling not included in Reeves and Mitchell (1986a, their Table 1).Where Reeves and Mitchell (1986a) is cited as one of the sources, the data presented here supplement or clarify those given in their table.
Date                  Locality         Comments

4 September 1766      Coney Island     40 ft, expected to yield
                                       70 bbl.

June 1850             Peconic Bay      Whale taken; 33 ft.

March 1883            Amagansett       Large [right] whale struck
                                       and lost; carcass seen
                                       floating "miles off the
                                       shore" next day.

27 December 1893      Southampton      The large right whale was
                                       taken by 2 boats headed by
                                       Captains Rogers and Hubert
                                       White, "two retired Arctic
                                       whalemen"; estimated worth:
                                       $2,000.

Winter 1883-84        Amagansett       No whales seen.

7 April 1894          Amagansett       Large right whale,
                                       50 ft long, baleen 7 ft,
                                       expected yield of at least
                                       50 bbls.

Early March 1895      Bridgehampton    Right whale chased by 2
                                       boats.

17 October 1895       Easthampton      Right whale and fin whale
                      and Amagansett   chased by 2 boats.

4 November 1895       Gardiners Bay    Fin whale chased by 2
                                       Greenport boats.

20 February 1897      Amagansett       40 ft right whale, produced
                                       less oil and bone than
                                       expected. Actual yield was
                                       18 bbls, 375 lbs; expected
                                       yield had been 30 bbls,
                                       600-700 lbs.

Early December 1905   E of Fire        Capt. Tyson Dominy of
                      Island Inlet     Easthampton killed 3
                                       finbacks; all sank.

22 March 1907         Amagansett       5 boats chased a whale.

21 March 1911         Southampton      2 boats chased a "school"
                                       of whales.

Date                  Locality         Source

4 September 1766      Coney Island     Weiss et al., 1974:104

June 1850             Peconic Bay      Caulkins, 1895:639

March 1883            Amagansett       New York Tribune,
                                       26 Jan. 1885, p. 5

27 December 1893      Southampton      Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a;
                                       New York Tribune,
                                       28 Dec. 1893, p. 5

Winter 1883-84        Amagansett       New York Tribune,
                                       26 Jan. 1885, p. 5

7 April 1894          Amagansett       New York Tribune,
                                       8 Apr. 1894, p. 1;
                                       Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
                                       8 Apr. 1894, p. 2;
                                       Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a

Early March 1895      Bridgehampton    Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
                                       10 March 1895, p. 7

17 October 1895       Easthampton      East Hampton Star,
                      and Amagansett   18 Oct. 1895;
                                       Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
                                       19 Oct. 1895, p. 7

4 November 1895       Gardiners Bay    Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
                                       4 Nov. 1895

20 February 1897      Amagansett       Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a;
                                       Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
                                       26 Feb. 1897, p. 4

Early December 1905   E of Fire        New York Tribune,
                      Island Inlet     11 Dec. 1905, p. 8

22 March 1907         Amagansett       New York Sun,
                                       23 March 1907, p. 5

21 March 1911         Southampton      New York Tribune,
                                       22 March 1911, p. 14


Results

Summaries by State

Maine

Norton (1930) summarized evidence of whaling along the Maine coast but found little evidence that right whales were taken (also see Allen, 1916). Whaling began in what is now Maine as early as the 17th century and continued at least sporadically until the early 20th century (Martin, 1975). The whaling that was conducted from the 19th century on, however, appears to have been directed primarily at fin whales, Balaenoptera physalus, and humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae (Goode, 1884:27; Clark, 1887:41; Allen, 1916:313; Mitchell and Reeves, 1983). There is little evidence of whaling in the Bay of Fundy, apart from cruises for humpbacks and fin whales by New England whalers during the 1880's (Reeves and Barto, 1985). One whale, probably a right whale, was taken in the bay and brought to Boston in August 1733 (Starbuck, 1878), and another was taken in Head Harbour Passage near Eastport in the late 1700's (Reeves and Barto, 1985). A whale was shot at Surry, Maine, in late September 1865 after stranding between two reefs (Whalemen's Shipping List 23(31), Oct. 1865). A right whale came ashore dead in Sheepscot Bay in summer 1919 (Norton, 1930).

New Hampshire

Allen (1916) mentioned nothing of shore whaling in present-day New Hampshire. A 50 ft whale, with a head 16 ft broad and "shaped like that of the horse," and differing from "all others that have been seen by those acquainted with that species of fish," was captured in the Piscataqua River, late June 1827 (The Corrector, Sag Harbor, N.Y., 6(9), 30 June 1827). It is unclear whether this capture was by whalemen or fishermen.

Massachusetts Mainland Including Cape Cod (1620-1910)

Beginnings of shore whaling (1620-1690). Shore whaling in the eastern United States may have begun at Cape Cod, particularly at Provincetown (Freeman, 1862:631; Shearman, 1876). At least one British expedition came to New England "to take whales" in the first quarter of the 17th century (Smith, 1624:204), and some of the Plymouth settlers in 1620 apparently were equipped for whaling (Thacher, 1832:20-21). The master and mate of the Mayflower expressed their intention of hunting whales off Cape Cod in winter 1620-21 (Anonymous, 1802:204), but we do not know whether they in fact did so. Winthrop (1825, 1:157) claimed when 3-4 whales were "cast ashore" on Cape Cod in April 1635 that this was not unusual. Whether these were drift whales harpooned but not secured by whalers is impossible to tell (see Drift Whales, below).

The direct hunting of right whales probably began in early New England well before 1650, when, according to some authors, the first private whaling company in North America was licensed at Southampton, Long Island (Hedges et al., 1874:70; Starbuck, 1878:9-10). Starbuck (1878:6) noted: "As important as the pursuit of whaling seemed to have been considered by the first [New England] settlers, many years seem to have elapsed before it was followed as a business, though probably something was attempted in that direction prior to any recorded account that we have." De Vries (1853) referred to the English "experimenting off the coast of New England with a limited kind of shore whaling" in the 1630's. They supposedly had trained selected Native Americans to serve as harpooners and oarsmen, in the absence of skilled Basques to fill these roles. Allen (1908:314) claimed that "a few whales, in addition to stranded or drift whales, were taken in Massachusetts Bay as early as 1631." A man was killed trying to secure a struck whale in Boston harbor in 1668 (Bradstreet, 1855:44), and Ipswich Bay was described in the early 1670's as a place "where they fish for Whales" (Josselyn, 1833:323). We can safely assume, then, that shore whaling was well established in Massachusetts by no later than the 1670's. Governor Hinckley's representation to the King of England on behalf of New Plymouth Colony in 1687 emphasized the relative importance of whale products in the economies of the Cape Cod towns (Collect. Mass. Hist. Soc., Ser. 4, V: 178), and a resident of the colony proclaimed in 1688 that the people had made "great profit by whale killing" (Randolph, quoted in Felt, 1849:223).

Peak Years of Shore Whaling (1690-1725). Shore whaling was a major industry on Cape Cod and the Massachusetts mainland from the last decades of the 17th century through the first quarter of the 18th century. Although only several dozen captures of right whales are documented for this period (Table 3), many more must have been made. The catch of 29 whales in one day in Cape Cod Bay in 1700 implies that several crews were engaged. The Cotton Mather (1912:379)journal for 1716 refers to "our numerous tribe of Whale-Catchers."

Table 3.--Records of right whales from New England (excluding Nantucket: see Table 4). State is Massachusetts unless otherwise indicated. For additional Connecticut records, see Tables 6 and 7.
                                            Whales

                                                          Struck/
Date               Locality          Seen       Taken      lost

Dec. 1620          Cape Cod            +

April 1635         Cape Cod

1654               Weymouth

1662               Off                            1
                   Narragansett
                   Bay

1662               Barnstable

1665               Yarmouth

1668               Boston Harbor                             1

1672               Yarmouth

Winter 1690        "Cape Cod                      1
                   Harbour"

Winter 1691        Cape Cod                       1

1692               Edgartown                      1

1697               Yarmouth                       2

Winter 1699-1700   Cape Cod Bay                  29+
(before 27
January)

February 1703      Martha's                       3
                   Vineyard

Late in 1706,      Ipswich                     Several
probably Dec.

Early December     Boston Harbor                  1          1
1707

25 Nov. 1712       Duxbury

1720               Squibnocket,
                   Martha's
                   Vineyard

1722-23            Vicinity of
                   Salem

Spring 1723        Massachusetts                  8
                   Bay (?)

1725               Noman's Land                   1

March 1736         Off                          1[2?]
                   Provincetown

11 May 1736        40 leagues E.                             2
                   of Georges
                   Bank

Up to 5 Jan.,      Provincetown                   2
season of
1737-38

Up to Feb.,        Yarmouth                       1
season of
1737-38.

1738-39            Provincetown                   6

                                                  1

1738-39            Sandwich                       2

1746               Cape Cod                   [is less
                                              than or
                                              equal to]
                                               3 or 4

10 Feb. 1755       Truro

Dec. 1756          King's [Lynn]                  1
                   Beach

1770               Duxbury

14 Jan. 1795       In Buzzards
                   Bay

4 Dec. 1808        Winter Island,
                   near Salem

April 1822         Boston Bay                                1

Late March 1824    Martha's                       1
                   Vineyard

5 April 1824       New Haven,
                   Conn.

19 Feb. 1828       Newport, R.I.                  1

11 April 1835      Provincetown                   1

1 Sept. 1838       Newburyport

25 March 1841      Edgartown                      1

12 May 1841        Westport Point                 2

11 May 1843        SE of Chatham                  1
                   (Great South
                   Channel)

Mid-April 1848     Plymouth            +

Late Jan. 1850     Provincetown                   1
                   Harbor

Early Feb. 1850    Provincetown                   1
                   Harbor

1 Nov. 1850        Provincetown                   1

Mid-May 1852       Provincetown                   1
                   (in
                   Massachusetts
                   Bay)

Early Oct. 1852    Massachusetts                  2
                   Bay

April 1853         Provincetown                   2         1?
                   Harbor

11 Dec. 1854       Provincetown                   1

Late Nov. 1858     Provincetown

17-24 March 1860   Provincetown     Several       1

April 1864         Plymouth (but                  1
                   towed to
                   Provincetown)

1867               Cape Cod Bay,                  1
                   near
                   Provincetown

1 March 1870       Provincetown        2                     1
                   town

1887               Provincetown                   1

20 May 1888        Provincetown                   2
                   (Massachusetts
                   Bay)

May 1888           Provincetown                   1

1 June 1888        Provincetown                   1          1

1893               Tiverton, R.I.                 1

1894               Fort Adams,                    1
                   R.I.

October 1894       Boston Bay          1

Late March 1895    Nahant                         1

15 Jan. 1909       Provincetown                   1

Spring 1910        Provincetown        1

                                        Whales          I.D.
                                                     certainty
Date               Locality         Chased   Drift      (1)

Dec. 1620          Cape Cod                              1

April 1635         Cape Cod                   3-4        2

1654               Weymouth                     1        1

1662               Off                                   1
                   Narragansett
                   Bay

1662               Barnstable                   1        1

1665               Yarmouth                     2        1

1668               Boston Harbor                         1

1672               Yarmouth                     1        1

Winter 1690        "Cape Cod                             1
                   Harbour"

Winter 1691        Cape Cod                              1

1692               Edgartown                             1

1697               Yarmouth                              1

Winter 1699-1700   Cape Cod Bay                          1
(before 27
January)

February 1703      Martha's                              1
                   Vineyard

Late in 1706,      Ipswich                               1
probably Dec.

Early December     Boston Harbor                         1
1707

25 Nov. 1712       Duxbury          1                    2

1720               Squibnocket,                 1        2
                   Martha's
                   Vineyard

1722-23            Vicinity of                  2        1
                   Salem

Spring 1723        Massachusetts                         2
                   Bay (?)

1725               Noman's Land                          1

March 1736         Off                                   1
                   Provincetown

11 May 1736        40 leagues E.                         2
                   of Georges
                   Bank

Up to 5 Jan.,      Provincetown                          2
season of
1737-38

Up to Feb.,        Yarmouth                              1
season of
1737-38.

1738-39            Provincetown                          2

                                                         1

1738-39            Sandwich                              2

1746               Cape Cod                              2

10 Feb. 1755       Truro            1                    2

Dec. 1756          King's [Lynn]                         2
                   Beach

1770               Duxbury                      1        2

14 Jan. 1795       In Buzzards      2                    2
                   Bay

4 Dec. 1808        Winter Island,               1        2
                   near Salem

April 1822         Boston Bay                            2

Late March 1824    Martha's                              2
                   Vineyard

5 April 1824       New Haven,       1 [?]
                   Conn.

19 Feb. 1828       Newport, R.I.                         1

11 April 1835      Provincetown                          1

1 Sept. 1838       Newburyport                  1        1

25 March 1841      Edgartown                             1

12 May 1841        Westport Point                        1

11 May 1843        SE of Chatham                         1
                   (Great South
                   Channel)

Mid-April 1848     Plymouth         +                    1

Late Jan. 1850     Provincetown                          1
                   Harbor

Early Feb. 1850    Provincetown                          1
                   Harbor

1 Nov. 1850        Provincetown                          1

Mid-May 1852       Provincetown                          1
                   (in
                   Massachusetts
                   Bay)

Early Oct. 1852    Massachusetts                         2
                   Bay

April 1853         Provincetown                          2
                   Harbor

11 Dec. 1854       Provincetown                          1

Late Nov. 1858     Provincetown     1                    1

17-24 March 1860   Provincetown                          2

April 1864         Plymouth (but                         1
                   towed to
                   Provincetown)

1867               Cape Cod Bay,                         1
                   near
                   Provincetown

1 March 1870       Provincetown                          1
                   town

1887               Provincetown                          1

20 May 1888        Provincetown                          1
                   (Massachusetts
                   Bay)

May 1888           Provincetown                          1

1 June 1888        Provincetown                          1

1893               Tiverton, R.I.                        2

1894               Fort Adams,                           1
                   R.I.

October 1894       Boston Bay                            1

Late March 1895    Nahant                                1

15 Jan. 1909       Provincetown                          1

Spring 1910        Provincetown                          1

Date               Locality         Comments

Dec. 1620          Cape Cod         "Large whales of the
                                    best kind for oil
                                    and bone."

April 1635         Cape Cod         "Cast on shore."

1654               Weymouth         "Taken" or found.

1662               Off              See text.
                   Narragansett
                   Bay

1662               Barnstable       Plymouth Colony
                                    received tax on a
                                    [drift?] whale.

1665               Yarmouth         Taxes ordered paid
                                    on 2 [drift?]
                                    whales.

1668               Boston Harbor

1672               Yarmouth         [Damaged carcass].

Winter 1690        "Cape Cod        "Large."
                   Harbour"

Winter 1691        Cape Cod

1692               Edgartown        "Cast on shore";
                                    supposedly killed by
                                    a harpooner, "on a
                                    whale design."

1697               Yarmouth         Mother 55 ft and
                                    calf 20 ft.

Winter 1699-1700   Cape Cod Bay     29 in one day by all
(before 27                          the boats working in
January)                            the area.

February 1703      Martha's         "Great whales,
                   Vineyard         betwixt six and
                                    seven and eight foot
                                    bone."

Late in 1706,      Ipswich
probably Dec.

Early December     Boston Harbor    40 ft.
1707

25 Nov. 1712       Duxbury          Boat chasing a
                                    whale, "all
                                    drowned."

1720               Squibnocket,
                   Martha's
                   Vineyard

1722-23            Vicinity of      "Drift" whales,
                   Salem            claimants may prove
                                    their right [to the
                                    carcasses] before
                                    courts of the
                                    admiralty."

Spring 1723        Massachusetts    Brought into Boston
                   Bay (?)          by vessels from that
                                    port; some may have
                                    been sperm whales.

1725               Noman's Land     26-barrel, by a
                                    6-man crew.

March 1736         Off              "Large" est.
                   Provincetown     100 bbls oil; taken
                                    "at sea" by a
                                    Provincetown vessel.

11 May 1736        40 leagues E.    Could have been
                   of Georges       sperm whales,
                   Bank             judging by location
                                    and circumstances.

Up to 5 Jan.,      Provincetown     "Small."
season of
1737-38

Up to Feb.,        Yarmouth         Baleen 8-9 ft; large
season of
1737-38.

1738-39            Provincetown     "Small."

                                    "Large," baleen
                                    6 ft.

1738-39            Sandwich         "Small."

1746               Cape Cod

10 Feb. 1755       Truro

Dec. 1756          King's [Lynn]    75 ft, man "rode
                   Beach            into his mouth,
                                    in a chair drawn by
                                    a horse"; 2 ribs
                                    were used for gate
                                    posts.

1770               Duxbury          Carcass found near
                                    shore, being eaten
                                    by sharks, 16+ bbls.

14 Jan. 1795       In Buzzards      Two 40-bbl whales
                   Bay              chased by "several"
                                    boats within 3 mi of
                                    New Bedford.

4 Dec. 1808        Winter Island,   Found "in the
                   near Salem       offing"; "grounded,"
                                    60 ft.

April 1822         Boston Bay       By a Cape Cod
                                    vessel; broke line
                                    and escaped.

Late March 1824    Martha's         "Small." Found dead
                   Vineyard         by schooner Ruby of
                                    Boston; blubber
                                    taken to Edgartown
                                    for trying out; made
                                    33-40 bbls; thought
                                    to have been struck
                                    by whalers operating
                                    from S side of
                                    island.

5 April 1824       New Haven,       In harbor, chased by
                   Conn.            local "enterprising
                                    seamen."

19 Feb. 1828       Newport, R.I.    70 bbls, 44 ft,
                                    pursued by 4 boats
                                    and twice harpooned
                                    on 18 Feb.; finally
                                    taken by Capt.
                                    Potter of Newport.

11 April 1835      Provincetown     By schooner Columbia
                                    of Provincetown,
                                    expected to produce
                                    75-80 bbls.

1 Sept. 1838       Newburyport      Ca. 40 ft; found
                                    dead; ca. 40 bbls.

25 March 1841      Edgartown        40-45 bbl.

12 May 1841        Westport Point   Ca. 50 ft, 40 bbls;
                                    ca. 25 ft, 20 bbls;
                                    4-5 boats chased;
                                    1,500 gallons oil
                                    expected.

11 May 1843        SE of Chatham    Very large. By
                   (Great South     schooner Cordelia of
                   Channel)         Provincetown 125
                                    bbls and 300 lb
                                    baleen saved; 14 ft
                                    baleen. Length of
                                    baleen and potential
                                    yield (supposedly
                                    ca. 1 1/2 tons baleen,
                                    ca. 300 bbls) suggest
                                    a bowhead.

Mid-April 1848     Plymouth         "Considerable number"
                                    seen, chased by 5
                                    vessels.

Late Jan. 1850     Provincetown     "Large."
                   Harbor

Early Feb. 1850    Provincetown     "Large," 50 bbls.
                   Harbor

1 Nov. 1850        Provincetown     "Large," 60 bbls.

Mid-May 1852       Provincetown     "Large," 75 bbls, 8
                   (in              ft baleen.
                   Massachusetts
                   Bay)

Early Oct. 1852    Massachusetts    By a Provincetown
                   Bay              schooner.

April 1853         Provincetown
                   Harbor

11 Dec. 1854       Provincetown     Drifted ashore
                                    mid-Dec, at Sandwich,
                                    48 ft, 30-40 or 60
                                    bbls; harpoon
                                    suggested it was
                                    Provincetown whale
                                    killed but lost on
                                    11th.

Late Nov. 1858     Provincetown     One whale "several
                                    times fired at with
                                    harpoon guns,
                                    eventually escaped."

17-24 March 1860   Provincetown     By Samuel Loper and
                                    others; "several"
                                    seen in harbor on 18
                                    March.

April 1864         Plymouth (but    Large, 47-48 ft;
                   towed to         produced 80 [or 83]
                   Provincetown)    bbls, 14 gallons;
                                    1001 lb baleen.
                                    Skeleton in Museum of
                                    Comparative Zoology;
                                    baleen 7 ft.

1867               Cape Cod Bay,    Large, 48 ft, 84
                   near             bbls, 1,000 lbs
                   Provincetown     baleen.

1 March 1870       Provincetown     Mother and calf, cow
                   town             struck; while
                                    lancing, the line
                                    had to be cut.

1887               Provincetown     Large, male, 47 ft;
                                    70 bbls.

20 May 1888        Provincetown     Large, produced 170
                   (Massachusetts   bbls (one gave 80
                   Bay)             bbls, 800 lbs
                                    baleen).

May 1888           Provincetown     Large, found dead
                                    near Georges Bank;
                                    probably killed by
                                    steamer A.B.
                                    Nickerson; 50 ft.

1 June 1888        Provincetown     Mother and calf.
                                    Mother 55-60 ft,
                                    produced 100 bbls,
                                    1,500 lb baleen;
                                    "unusually large and
                                    fat"; calf sank;
                                    killed with bomb
                                    lances by steamer
                                    A.B. Nickerson.(2)

1893               Tiverton, R.I.   Large, ca. 50 ft,
                                    stranded at Newport,
                                    R.I.

1894               Fort Adams,      First seen off
                   R.I.             Conanicut Is., R.I.

October 1894       Boston Bay       Thought to have been
                                    the whale killed at
                                    Nahant the following
                                    March; may have
                                    overwintered in this
                                    area.

Late March 1895    Nahant           Large, male, escaped
                                    towing gear; found
                                    dead on 1 April, 25
                                    mi N. of Race Point;
                                    42 ft, 50-60 bbls; 5
                                    1 1/2 ft baleen.

15 Jan. 1909       Provincetown     Small, female,
                                    entangled in fish
                                    trap, killed with
                                    bomb lance; 10.59 m;
                                    a "scrag."

Spring 1910        Provincetown

Date               Locality         Sources

Dec. 1620          Cape Cod         Thacher, 1832:20

April 1635         Cape Cod         Winthrop, 1825:157

1654               Weymouth         Shurtleff, 1854:191

1662               Off              Sporri, 1677 (in
                   Narragansett     Bridenbaugh, 1974,
                   Bay              app. V, p. 144-145)

1662               Barnstable       Shurtleff, 1857:165

1665               Yarmouth         Shurtleff, 1855:99

1668               Boston Harbor    Bradstreet, 1855:44

1672               Yarmouth         Crapo, 1876:66;
                                    Allen, 1916:151

Winter 1690        "Cape Cod        Felt, 1849:224;
                   Harbour"
                                    Starbuck, 1878:18

Winter 1691        Cape Cod         Felt, 1849:224;
                                    Starbuck, 1878:18

1692               Edgartown        Starbuck, 1878:18

1697               Yarmouth         Allen, 1916:129, 133

Winter 1699-1700   Cape Cod Bay     Allen, 1916:131
(before 27
January)


February 1703      Martha's         Starbuck, 1878:35
                   Vineyard         [erroneously
                                    attributed to 1793
                                    by Crapo, 1876:65,
                                    and subsequently
                                    Allen, 1908:319]

Late in 1706,      Ipswich          Felt, 1834:109
probably Dec.

Early December     Boston Harbor    Starbuck, 1878:34;
1707                                Allen, 1916:133

25 Nov. 1712       Duxbury          Allen, 1916:134

1720               Squibnocket,     Banks, 1966a:44
                   Martha's
                   Vineyard

1722-23            Vicinity of      Felt, 1849:224
                   Salem

Spring 1723        Massachusetts    Starbuck, 1878:168
                   Bay (?)

1725               Noman's Land     Banks, 1966a:435

March 1736         Off              Allen, 1916:134;
                   Provincetown     Starbuck, 1878:32,
                                    158 [see Boston
                                    News-Letter, 18
                                    March and 1 April
                                    1736]

11 May 1736        40 leagues E.    Starbuck, 1878:32
                   of Georges       [see Boston
                   Bank             News-Letter, 27
                                    May 1736]

Up to 5 Jan.,      Provincetown     Allen, 1916:158-159;
season of                           Starbuck, 1878:32-33
1737-38

Up to Feb.,        Yarmouth         Allen, 1916:159;
season of                           Starbuck, 1878:32-33
1737-38.

1738-39            Provincetown     Allen, 1916:159;
                                    Starbuck, 1878:32-33

1738-39            Sandwich         Allen, 1916:159;
                                    Starbuck, 1878,
                                    p. 32-33

1746               Cape Cod         Douglass, 1760:59

10 Feb. 1755       Truro            Allen, 1916:134

Dec. 1756          King's [Lynn]    The Corrector, Sag
                   Beach            Harbor, 8(42), 13
                                    Feb. 1830

1770               Duxbury          Winsor, 1849:86

14 Jan. 1795       In Buzzards      New Bedford Medley,
                   Bay              16 Jan. 1795

4 Dec. 1808        Winter Island,   Bentley, 1911:400
                   near Salem

April 1822         Boston Bay       Allen, 1916:134-135;
                                    Nantucket Inquirer
                                    2(17): 25 April 1822

Late March 1824    Martha's         Nantucket Inquirer
                   Vineyard         4(15): 5 April 1824

5 April 1824       New Haven,       Nantucket Inquirer
                   Conn.            4(16): 12 April 1824

19 Feb. 1828       Newport, R.I.    Allen, 1916:135;
                                    Clark, 1887:48; New
                                    London Gazette,
                                    27 Feb. 1828

11 April 1835      Provincetown     New-Bedford Mercury

1 Sept. 1838       Newburyport      Allen, 1916:135, 140

25 March 1841      Edgartown        New Bedford Mercury,
                                    34(40), 2 April 1841

12 May 1841        Westport Point   Morgan, 1841; New
                                    Bedford Mercury, 34
                                    (46), 14 May 1841

11 May 1843        SE of Chatham    Allen, 1916:135;
                   (Great South     Jennings, 1890:
                   Channel)         193-94

Mid-April 1848     Plymouth         Allen, 1916:136

Late Jan. 1850     Provincetown     Allen, 1916:136
                   Harbor

Early Feb. 1850    Provincetown     Allen, 1916:136
                   Harbor

1 Nov. 1850        Provincetown     Allen, 1916:136;
                                    Clark, 1887:41;
                                    Goode, 1884:24n

Mid-May 1852       Provincetown     Allen, 1916:136
                   (in
                   Massachusetts
                   Bay)

Early Oct. 1852    Massachusetts    Allen, 1916:136
                   Bay

April 1853         Provincetown     Allen, 1916:136-137
                   Harbor

11 Dec. 1854       Provincetown     Allen, 1916:137;
                                    Nantucket Inquirer,
                                    34(153):25 Dec. 1854;
                                    WSL 12(43):26 Dec.
                                    1854

Late Nov. 1858     Provincetown     Allen, 1916:137

17-24 March 1860   Provincetown     WSL 18(3):
                                    27 March 1860

April 1864         Plymouth (but    Allen, 1916:118, 137,
                   towed to         171; Allen, 1908:322
                   Provincetown)

1867               Cape Cod Bay,    Goode, 1884:24
                   near
                   Provincetown

1 March 1870       Provincetown     Allen, 1916:137
                   town

1887               Provincetown     Allen, 1916:138

20 May 1888        Provincetown     Allen, 1916:138-139,
                   (Massachusetts   171; WSL 46(17):29
                   Bay)             May 1888

May 1888           Provincetown     Allen, 1916:139; WSL
                                    46(17):29 May 1888

1 June 1888        Provincetown     Allen, 1916:130-131,
                                    139, 143, 171; WSL
                                    46(19):12 June 1888

1893               Tiverton, R.I.   Allen, 1916:139

1894               Fort Adams,      Allen, 1916:139
                   R.I.

October 1894       Boston Bay       Allen, 1916:139

Late March 1895    Nahant           Allen, 1916:120, 139;
                                    True, 1904:268

15 Jan. 1909       Provincetown     Allen, 1916,
                                    plate 9, 119, 140

Spring 1910        Provincetown     Allen, 1916:140


(1) The degree of certainty of our identification of the whales as right whales was evaluated according to the following criteria: 1 =whale was taken by shore whalers in 1725 or earlier; baleen at least 3 ft long or considered worth saving; yield 40 bbl oil or more; whale clearly identified as a balaenid by our source (any one of these criteria is sufficient). 2=whale was taken after 1725; no definite evidence it was a balaenid, but also no definite evidence that it was not. Drift whales are classified as "2" unless some evidence was available to identify them as right whales. "The Right Whale and less often the Humpback, were the only species regularly hunted in our waters until the introduction of more deadly apparatus than the hand harpoon, so that it may usually be assumed that when `whales' are mentioned in the old accounts as seen or pursued, the Right Whale is the species intended. Especially is this the case, since Finbacks or Humpbacks are usually so designated" (Allen, 1916, p. 132). No whale other than the bowhead has baleen longer than 3 ft. Though large sperm whales often yielded more than 40 barrels of oil, mysticetes other than balaenids rarely did, particularly when only the blubber was tried out (see Mitchell and Reeves, 1983, p. 188, for a discussion of humpback yields).

(2) Whalers were also hunting fin whales at this time.

Nantucket. Records given in Table 4 are principally from Allen's (1916: 163-67) account of shore whaling at Nantucket, derived largely from Macy (1835) and St. John de Crevecoeur (1782) for the early years and from Allen's search of Nantucket newspapers; Little's (1981, 1988) searches of archival documents; and our own reexamination of some of their sources. A few of the records require explanation.
Table 4.--Nantucket shore whaling

                                                   Right whales
                      Evidence of
Date                  whaling activity            Seen     Taken

1686                  Possible sale of products
                      from drift whale by
                      Indians.

1691                  Possible sale of products
                      from drift whale by
                      Indians.

1691-1695             Four whaling stations
                      active on S side.

1696-1719 [or 1731]   Evidence of whaleboat
                      building and whaleboat
                      oar crafting on the
                      island.

1696-1733             Tools for whaling from
                      boats in blacksmith's
                      account book.

1702-1723             Shore whaling stations
                      active.

7th day, 11th month   A "stunt."                             1
1708

1709                  Sloops with 2 whaleboats
                      each whaling on Nantucket
                      Shoals.

Winter 1710           A "cutter" paid for                   1[?]
                      cutting blubber.

1711                  A "dryskin," a                        2-3
                      "yearling," and possibly
                      a third "fat" whale
                      taken.(3)

1712                  First sperm whale
                      ("Spermaseta") taken by
                      Nantucket whalers; taken
                      "accidentally some
                      distance south of
                      Nantucket."

Ca 1712               "Triing of 2 barills of               1[?]
                      fat whale."

1713                  A "dryskin" and possibly              1-2
                      a second "fat" whale
                      taken.(3)

1714                  Reference to "the first                1
                      whale."

1715                  References to "the first               2
                      whail" and "the second
                      whail."

1715                                                      15(est.)

1717                  Reference to "whaleing               1(+?)
                      and fishing on this
                      shore"; reference to
                      "the vinyar whale"
                      (attributed to 1714 by
                      Little); "18 long bone
                      sold."

1718                  Complaint by Indians
                      about their whaling
                      returns.

1718                  Began whaling "out in the
                      deep."

1721                                                         1

1724                                                         2

1726                  28 boat crews of 6 men                86
                      each.

1726                  ca 27-30 "whale houses"
                      on Nantucket.

December 1727         A day's whaling trip.                  1

1727                                                         1

1728                  At least 1 alongshore.                 2

1728                  At least 1 alongshore; 1               5
                      at Bowbell, Nantucket
                      Shoals.

February 1729 or      Whaling voyage in
1730                  whaleboat, Nantucket to
                      Martha's Vineyard.

1729                  At least 1 at Bowbell; 1               2
                      in "ye deep."

1729                  1 alongshore; 1 at                     2
                      Bowbell.

1730                  In "ye deep."                          1

1730, winter          Alongshore.                            1

Late February 1731    "A whale day."

1731                  2 in "ye deep"; 1 "went                2
                      to the bay."
1731                                                         1

1732                  Possibly 27 "companies"
                      whaling alongshore.

Spring 1732           In "ye deep."                          1

1733                  1 in "ye deep"; 1 at                   2
                      Bowbell.

1734                  At least 1 in "ye deep"                2
                      or at Bowbell.

1735                  3 in "ye deep", 1                      5
                      alongshore, 1 at Bowbell
                      (summer).

1736                  One in summer.                         2

1736                  Alongshore.                            1

1737                  One in spring.                         2

1737                                                         2

Spring 1738           At least 1 at Bowbell.                 2

Summer 1738                                                  1

1739                                                         1

Summer 1739                                                  1

1740                  1 in spring.                           3

1741                  At least 1 at Bowbell.                 3

1742                  At least 1 at Bowbell                  3
                      (summer); 1 in fall.

1742                                                         2

Spring 1743                                                  1

1743                                                         1

1744                  At Bowbell.                            1

Summer 1745                                                  1

1746-1750             At least a "cow & calf"                2
                      taken.

1746                                                         1

1747                  At Bowbell.                            1

1748                                                         1

Spring 1749                                                  1

1750                  1 in winter.                           2

1751                  Sloop Ann.                             2

1752                                                         1

Spring 1754                                                  1

1754                  Alongshore.                            1

1755                                                         3

1755                                                         1

Spring 1756                                                  1

Winter 1757                                                  1

1757                                                         1

1758                                                         1

1760                  "Along-shore whaling
                      continued at Nantucket
                      until 1760." 28-30 max.
                      no. of shore whaleboats
                      at Nantucket.

1775                  Whale houses and look-out
                      masts in place at
                      Siasconset.

No date (before       30 whaleboats at sea S
1792)                 of Nantucket.

3 May 1796            A floating sperm whale
                      found and towed by a
                      sloop to Nantucket; made
                      50 bbl body oil and 35
                      head; sold for $2,689.

10, 19 April 1800     One large and one small,     +         3
                      31 and 16 barrels oil on
                      10 April 30 barrels oil
                      on 19 April.

Early June 1854       "A large humpback or         1
                      right whale" seen for
                      several days,
                      preparations made to
                      chase it.

10 November 1863      One whale seen, not          1
                      chased.

End November 1864     2 whales seen and chased.    2

April 1871            Found dead in the sound;
                      towed to Nantucket and
                      flensed.

1st week November     Large (40 bbl) whale         1
1876                  chased.

1 November 1877       A "large scrag whale"        1
                      seen.

Mid April 1886        Produced 125 barrels oil               4
                      and 1500-2000 lb baleen,
                      all told. One sank in 11
                      fathoms. Nantucket and
                      Tuckernuck (one towed to
                      New Bedford).

Late April to early May 1886 Up to 25 whales      ca 25
seen near coast; chased by schooner Glide.

10 May 1686                                        1

1st week April 1891   "Several" seen.              2+

1-4 April 1897        "Several" seen and           2+
                      chased.

Ca 24 May 1913        S shore of Muskeget          2
                      Island.
                                                  Right
                                                  whales     I.D.
                      Evidence of                          certain-
Date                  whaling activity            Drift     ty(1)

1686                  Possible sale of products     1          2
                      from drift whale by
                      Indians.

1691                  Possible sale of products     1          2
                      from drift whale by
                      Indians.

1691-1695             Four whaling stations
                      active on S side.

1696-1719 [or 1731]   Evidence of whaleboat
                      building and whaleboat
                      oar crafting on the
                      island.

1696-1733             Tools for whaling from
                      boats in blacksmith's
                      account book.

1702-1723             Shore whaling stations
                      active.

7th day, 11th month   A "stunt."                               1
1708

1709                  Sloops with 2 whaleboats
                      each whaling on Nantucket
                      Shoals.

Winter 1710           A "cutter" paid for
                      cutting blubber.

1711                  A "dryskin," a                           1
                      "yearling", and possibly
                      a third "fat" whale
                      taken.(3)

1712                  First sperm whale
                      ("Spermaseta") taken by
                      Nantucket whalers; taken
                      accidentally some
                      distance south of
                      Nantucket."

Ca 1712               "Triing of 2 barills of                  1
                      fat whale."

1713                  A "dryskin" and possibly                 1
                      a second "fat" whale
                      taken.(3)

1714                  Reference to "the first                  1
                      whale."

1715                  References to "the first                 1
                      whail" and "the second
                      whail."

1715

1717                  Reference to "whaleing                   1
                      and fishing on this
                      shore"; reference to
                      "the vinyar whale"
                      (attributed to 1714 by
                      Little); "18 long bone
                      sold."

1718                  Complaint by Indians
                      about their whaling
                      returns.

1718                  Began whaling "out in the
                      deep."

1721                                                           1

1724                                                           1

1726                  28 boat crews of 6 men                   2
                      each.

1726                  ca 27-30 "whale houses"
                      on Nantucket.

December 1727         A day's whaling trip.                    2

1727                                                           2

1728                  At least 1 alongshore.                   1

1728                  At least 1 alongshore; 1                 2
                      at Bowbell, Nantucket
                      Shoals.

February 1729 or      Whaling voyage in
1730                  whaleboat, Nantucket to
                      Martha's Vineyard.

1729                  At least 1 at Bowbell; 1                 2
                      in "ye deep."

1729                  1 alongshore; 1 at
                      Bowbell.

1730                  In "ye deep."                            2

1730, winter          Alongshore.                              1

Late February 1731    "A whale day."

1731                  2 in "ye deep"; 1 "went     1(?)         2
                      to the bay."
1731                                                           1

1732                  Possibly 27 "companies"
                      whaling alongshore.

Spring 1732           In "ye deep."                            2

1733                  1 in "ye deep"; 1 at                     2
                      Bowbell.

1734                  At least 1 in "ye deep"                  2
                      or at Bowbell.

1735                  3 in "ye deep", 1                        2
                      alongshore, 1 at Bowbell
                      (summer).

1736                  One in summer.                           2

1736                  Alongshore.                              1

1737                  One in spring.                           2

1737                                                           1

Spring 1738           At least 1 at Bowbell.                   2

Summer 1738                                                    2

1739                                                           2

Summer 1739                                                    2

1740                  1 in spring.                             2

1741                  At least 1 at Bowbell.                   2

1742                  At least 1 at Bowbell                    2
                      (summer); 1 in fall.

1742                                                           1

Spring 1743                                                    2

1743                                                           1

1744                  At Bowbell.                              2

Summer 1745                                                    2

1746-1750             At least a "cow & calf"                  2
                      taken.

1746                                                           2

1747                  At Bowbell.                              2

1748                                                           2

Spring 1749                                                    2

1750                  1 in winter.                             2

1751                  Sloop Ann.

1752                                                           2

Spring 1754                                                    2

1754                  Alongshore.                              1

1755                                                           2

1755                                                           1

Spring 1756                                                    2

Winter 1757                                                    1

1757                                                           2

1758                                                           2

1760                  "Along-shore whaling
                      continued at Nantucket
                      until 1760." 28-30 max.
                      no. of shore whaleboats
                      at Nantucket.

1775                  Whale houses and look-out
                      masts in place at
                      Siasconset.

No date (before       30 whaleboats at sea S
1792)                 of Nantucket.

3 May 1796            A floating sperm whale
                      found and towed by a
                      sloop to Nantucket; made
                      50 bbl body oil and 35
                      head; sold for $2,689.

10, 19 April 1800     One large and one small,                 1
                      31 and 16 barrels oil on
                      10 April 30 barrels oil
                      on 19 April.

Early June 1854       "A large humpback or                     2
                      right whale" seen for
                      several days,
                      preparations made to
                      chase it.

10 November 1863      One whale seen, not                      1
                      chased.

End November 1864     2 whales seen and chased.                1

April 1871            Found dead in the sound;      1          1
                      towed to Nantucket and
                      flensed.

1st week November     Large (40 bbl) whale                     1
1876                  chased.

1 November 1877       A "large scrag whale"                    2
                      seen.

Mid April 1886        Produced 125 barrels oil                 1
                      and 1500-2000 lb baleen,
                      all told. One sank in 11
                      fathoms. Nantucket and
                      Tuckernuck (one towed to
                      New Bedford).

Late April to early May 1886 Up to 25 whales                   1
seen near coast; chased by schooner Glide.

10 May 1686                                                    1

1st week April 1891   "Several" seen.                          1

1-4 April 1897        "Several" seen and                       1
                      chased.

Ca 24 May 1913        S shore of Muskeget                      1
                      Island.

                      Evidence of
Date                  whaling activity            Source(2)

1686                  Possible sale of products   1:32
                      from drift whale by
                      Indians.

1691                  Possible sale of products   1:32
                      from drift whale by
                      Indians.

1691-1695             Four whaling stations       1:19, 22
                      active on S side.

1696-1719 [or 1731]   Evidence of whaleboat       1:Tables 5, 6
                      building and whaleboat
                      oar crafting on the
                      island.

1696-1733             Tools for whaling from      1:Table 7
                      boats in blacksmith's
                      account book.

1702-1723             Shore whaling stations      1:25
                      active.

7th day, 11th month   A "stunt."                  Blacksmith,
1708                                              1683-1738; also
                                                  see 1:11

1709                  Sloops with 2 whaleboats    1:11-12
                      each whaling on Nantucket
                      Shoals.

Winter 1710           A "cutter" paid for         1:8
                      cutting blubber.

1711                  A "dryskin," a              1:11, 75
                      "yearling", and possibly
                      a third "fat" whale
                      taken.(3)

1712                  First sperm whale           Blacksmith,
                      ("Spermaseta") taken by     1683-1738; 1:12
                      Nantucket whalers; taken
                      accidentally some
                      distance south of
                      Nantucket."

Ca 1712               "Triing of 2 barills of     1:app. 10
                      fat whale."

1713                  A "dryskin" and possibly    1:11, 75
                      a second "fat" whale
                      taken.(3)

1714                  Reference to "the first     Macy, 1707-1760
                      whale."

1715                  References to "the first    1:app. 10, p. 76
                      whail" and "the second
                      whail."

1715                                              See text

1717                  Reference to "whaleing
                      and fishing on this         Macy, 1707-1760;
                      shore"; reference to        1:75-76
                      "the vinyar whale"
                      (attributed to 1714 by
                      Little); "18 long bone
                      sold."

1718                  Complaint by Indians        1:70; Starbuck,
                      about their whaling         1924:143
                      returns.

1718                  Began whaling "out in the   1:12
                      deep."

1721                                              3

1724                                              3

1726                  28 boat crews of 6 men      Starbuck, 1924:
                      each.                       356; Macy, 1835:
                                                  31; Starbuck,
                                                  1878:22; 3

1726                  ca 27-30 "whale houses"     1:25
                      on Nantucket.

December 1727         A day's whaling trip.       1:7, 70; 3

1727                                              1:32, app. 7; 3

1728                  At least 1 alongshore.      3

1728                  At least 1 alongshore; 1    3
                      at Bowbell, Nantucket
                      Shoals.

February 1729 or      Whaling voyage in           1:7, 70
1730                  whaleboat, Nantucket to
                      Martha's Vineyard.

1729                  At least 1 at Bowbell; 1    3
                      in "ye deep."

1729                  1 alongshore; 1 at          3
                      Bowbell.

1730                  In "ye deep."               3

1730, winter          Alongshore.                 3

Late February 1731    "A whale day."              1:7-8

1731                  2 in "ye deep"; 1 "went     3
                      to the bay."
1731                                              3

1732                  Possibly 27 "companies"     1:33, app, 2
                      whaling alongshore.

Spring 1732           In "ye deep."               3

1733                  1 in "ye deep"; 1 at        3
                      Bowbell.

1734                  At least 1 in "ye deep"     3
                      or at Bowbell.

1735                  3 in "ye deep", 1           3
                      alongshore, 1 at Bowbell
                      (summer).

1736                  One in summer.              3

1736                  Alongshore.                 3

1737                  One in spring.              3

1737                                              3

Spring 1738           At least 1 at Bowbell.      3

Summer 1738                                       3

1739                                              3

Summer 1739                                       3

1740                  1 in spring.                3

1741                  At least 1 at Bowbell.      3

1742                  At least 1 at Bowbell       3
                      (summer); 1 in fall.

1742                                              3

Spring 1743                                       3

1743                                              3

1744                  At Bowbell.                 3

Summer 1745                                       3

1746-1750             At least a "cow & calf"     1:16
                      taken.

1746                                              3

1747                  At Bowbell.                 3

1748                                              3

Spring 1749                                       3

1750                  1 in winter.                3

1751                  Sloop Ann.                  3

1752                                              3

Spring 1754                                       3

1754                  Alongshore.                 3

1755                                              3

1755                                              3

Spring 1756                                       3

Winter 1757                                       3

1757                                              3

1758                                              3

1760                  "Along-shore whaling        1:15-16
                      continued at Nantucket
                      until 1760." 28-30 max.
                      no. of shore whaleboats
                      at Nantucket.

1775                  Whale houses and look-out   1:18
                      masts in place at
                      Siasconset.

No date (before       30 whaleboats at sea S      1:8
1792)                 of Nantucket.

3 May 1796            A floating sperm whale      N.B. Medley, 6
                      found and towed by a        and 20 May 1796
                      sloop to Nantucket; made
                      50 bbl body oil and 35
                      head; sold for $2,689.

10, 19 April 1800     One large and one small,    Macy, 1835:
                      31 and 16 barrels oil on    150-151; Allen,
                      10 April 30 barrels oil     1916:129, 134
                      on 19 April.

Early June 1854       "A large humpback or        The Whaleman,
                      right whale" seen for       New Bedford, 9
                      several days,               June 1854; WSL
                      preparations made to        12(15): 13 June
                      chase it.                   1854

10 November 1863      One whale seen, not         2:137
                      chased.

End November 1864     2 whales seen and chased.   2:137

April 1871            Found dead in the sound;    Stackpole, 1982
                      towed to Nantucket and
                      flensed.

1st week November     Large (40 bbl) whale        2:137-138
1876                  chased.

1 November 1877       A "large scrag whale"       2:138
                      seen.

Mid April 1886        Produced 125 barrels oil    2:126-128, 138,
                      and 1500-2000 lb baleen,    171; WSL 44(13):
                      all told. One sank in 11    4 May 1886;
                      fathoms. Nantucket and      Stackpole, 1982
                      Tuckernuck (one towed to
                      New Bedford).

Late April to early May 1886 Up to 25 whales      2:138
seen near coast; chased by schooner Glide.

10 May 1686                                       2:138

1st week April 1891   "Several" seen.             2:139

1-4 April 1897        "Several" seen and          2:139-140
                      chased.

Ca 24 May 1913        S shore of Muskeget         2:140
                      Island.


(1) The certainty of our identification of the whales as right whales was evaluated according to the following criteria: 1=whale was taken by shore whalers in 1725 or earlier; baleen at least 3 ft long or considered worth saving; yield 40 barrels oil or more; whale clearly identified as a balaenid by our source (any one of these criteria is sufficient). 2=whale was taken after 1725; no definite evidence it was a balaenid, but also no definite evidence that it was not. See Table 3, footnote 1.

(2) 1 = Little (1981), 2 = G. M. Allen (1916), 3 = Little (1988).

(3) Little (1981, e.g.p. 11) interpreted the listing "... fat whale ..." in the account books she examined to refer to "fat" whales taken. However, we suspect that in the context it may have meant "whale fat." Thus, it should not necessarily be interpreted as evidence that an additional whale was caught.

The people of New England chafed under the British colonial administration's policies toward whaling and the disposal of whale products (Collect. Mass. Hist. Soc., Ser. 5, VI). Their complaints in the first decade of the 18th century resembled and coincided with those of the Long Island whalers against the latter's colonial government (Reeves and Mitchell 1986a; also see below).

Post-1725 Shore Whaling (1726-1799) (Fig. 9). By all accounts, shore whaling for right whales had passed its peak by about 1725. The whale catch at Cape Cod was poor in the winter of 1726-27, as it had been for several years previously. The residents had some recent success, however, in hunting whales from larger vessels, and they were poised to resume this offshore whaling in spring 1727 (Smith, 1922:71). In March 1729, whalers were working out of Duxbury and Plymouth (Winsor, 1849:350), probably hunting right whales in Cape Cod Bay. In 1739 the people of Provincetown regarded their winter's catch of 7 or 8 whales as inadequate, and the principal whaling families made plans to move to Casco Bay, Maine (Smith, 1922:247). In 1746 only three or four whales were taken at Cape Cod, and Douglass (1760:59) believed the nearshore grounds were fished out.

[Figure 9 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Nineteenth Century Shore Whaling (Fig. 10). Despite their scarcity close to the coast, right whales continued to be pursued at every opportunity. For example, Charles W. Morgan (1841) of New Bedford noted in his diary on 13 May 1841: "Went to Westport Point in company with many others to see two whales which had been caught off there day before. They were cutting one in - about 48 ft. long and will make about 40 bbls of oil (right whale). It was a curious sight and quantities of people were present from N. Bedford and surrounding country. The other was much smaller, perhaps 20 bbls." These two whales were also mentioned in the New Bedford newspapers (New-Bedford Mercury, 34(46), 14 May 1841), and in the 12 May entry of Samuel Rodman's diary (Pease, 1927:220).

[Figure 10 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Referring to Provincetown, Freeman (1862:623) wrote: "Even now, if peradventure one [whale] occasionally shows itself within the range of the practised sight of a seaman, no objection is made to the vicinage of the game, and it is almost sure to be `brought to' by the unerring harpoon of the expert." He added that the occasional sighting of a whale "of the larger kind" in Barnstable Bay, Wellfleet Bay, or Provincetown Harbor was "the signal for sport that is generally successful" (Freeman, 1862:655). Pelagic whaling vessels were sometimes delayed from departing Provincetown when their masters received news that whales had been sighted near Race Point (e.g. the R. E. Cook and Seychelle, April 1853, Whalemen's Shipping List 11(8), 26 April 1853; the Rienzi, June 1857, Whalemen's Shipping List 15(15), 23 June 1857).

Captain N. E. Atwood of Provincetown stated during the 1860's that right whales were taken there occasionally but that their appearance had been more reguular in the past (Allen, 1869:202-203). Two or three right whales were killed near Provincetown between 1867 and 1884 (Goode, 1884:24). However, the only specific Provincetown record that we found for this period refers to a mother, accompanied by a calf, that was lanced but not secured in March 1870 (Allen, 1916:137).

An intensive hunt for balaenopterids (almost entirely fin and humpback whales), involving steam-powered vessels and explosive harpoons, took place in Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays and in the Gulf of Maine during 1865-95 (Clark, 1887:41-48; Allen, 1916; Mitchell and Reeves, 1983; Reeves and Barto, 1985). A close lookout would have been kept for right whales, and any seen would have been chased.

Martha's Vineyard. Allen (1908:314) claimed that whaling began at Martha's Vineyard in 1652 (Allen, 1916:167-68 provides more on early whaling and drift whale salvaging operations). The practice of including claims to products from drift whales with the title to land (Banks, 1966a:55) apparently grew out of purchase agreements made with Indians as early as 1658 (Banks, 1966b:432). Items listed in personal inventories in the late 1660's (e.g. barrels of oil, "great kittells", and a large "iron pot") indicate that Vineyard residents were processing whale products at that time. Try houses (for rendering whale blubber into oil) were present at Holmes Hole "quite early" and at the Butler homestead before 1748 (Banks, 1966b:432-433).

John Butler and Thomas Lothrop, the first Vineyard whalers on record, killed three whales in February 1703 (Banks, 1966b:434). Butler, at least, had been engaged in whaling for a considerable time before then. In 1724 a Vineyard man made a joint whaling expedition in Barnstable Bay with a man from Barnstable (Banks, 1966b:435). Shore whaling continued at Martha's Vineyard through at least the first quarter of the 19th century (Table 3).

According to Macy (1835:31; and see Little, 1988), shore whaling continued at Nantucket until about 1760, after which time whales were taken by boats from shore "only occasionally." Most of the whales taken by these boats were said to have been right whales (Shearman, 1876).

In 1715, six sloops whaling from Nantucket produced 600 barrels of oil and 11,000 lb of baleen (Macy, quoted in Collect. Mass. Hist. Soc., Ser. 1, 3:161) worth 1,100 [pounds sterling] sterling (Macy, 1835:37). Because long-distance whaling cruises on large vessels had not yet become commonplace for the colonists (the sloop voyages lasted no longer than about 6 weeks, according to Macy, 1835:37), and shore whaling for right whales was still a rewarding enterprise at the time, we believe that the returns listed came primarily from right whales. Some of the oil could have been from sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus. The first sperm whale taken at sea by the Nantucket whalers supposedly was killed in about 1712 (Macy, 1835:32), but sperm whales were known from the Massachusetts coast much earlier (Josselyn, 1672, 1833). Mary Starbuck's account book refers to spermaceti, a product obtained only from sperm whales, in connection with a voyage in 1729 (Little, 1988). Nevertheless, it appears that sperm whales were not commonly taken in the early years of sloop whaling when effort centered on Nantucket Shoals (Little, 1988). Oil and baleen from bow-heads also could have been included in the returns. However, although Starbuck (1878:168) referred to one New England whaling voyage to Davis Strait (as far as lat. 66 [degrees] N) in 1732, Nantucket vessels did not regularly begin visiting the northern regions where bowheads would have been a primary target until about 1746 (Macy, 1835:54). The earliest catch of a whale at Greenland, possibly a bowhead, mentioned in Mary Starbuck's account book was in 1737-38 (Little, 1988). If all 11,000 lb of baleen produced in 1715 did come from right whales, then an average yield of 657 lb per whale would indicate a secured catch of about 17 animals.

Starbuck (1878:168) surmised that the 1715 effort and catch by the Nantucket sloops was "probably for some years pretty constant." They certainly continued to catch right whales and sperm whales east of the Grand Bank and elsewhere through at least the 1760's (Fonda, 1969; Reeves and Mitchell, 1986b; Table 5). Some of the oil (and presumably baleen as well) secured by Nantucket sloops in Newfoundland was exported directly to England without having passed through a New England port (E. A. Little in litt., 17 August 1991; see below).

Table 5.--Catches reported by Little (1988) for Nan-tucket whalers at grounds in the Northwest Atlantic north of New England.
                                No. of          I.D.
Date          Place          right whales   certainty(1)

1733          Canso               1              2
Sept. 1735    Canso               1              1
Spring 1736   Canso               1              2
1737          Greenland           1              2
Summer 1738   Newfoundland        1              2
1741          Newfoundland        1              2
1743          Newfoundland        1              2
1747          Newfoundland        1              2
1753          Carolina            1              1
1754          Newfoundland        1              2


(1) According to the following: 1 = almost certainly a right whale because baleen was saved and the latitude is outside the bowhead's range; 2 = probably a right whale, but could be sperm, humpback, or bowhead.

Occasionally, pelagic whaling vessels in port put to sea off Nantucket in pursuit of whales sighted near the island (e.g. mid-May 1827, the brig Quito [Nantucket Inquirer, 26 May 1827]; several vessels in April 1847 [Nantucket Inquirer, 21 Apr. 1847]). Smaller vessels continued to make short cruises to Nantucket Shoals during the heyday of Nantucket's distant-water whaling (e.g. 6-10 Sept. 1825 by the sloop Sarah Porter [Nantucket Inquirer, 12 Sept. 1825]; Mitchell and Reeves, 1983).

An article entitled "The Whaling Business at Nantucket" appeared in The Corrector, Sag Harbor, 19 June 1852: "The recent close approach of whales to the island which has so thinned their ranks, has started `off-shore fishermen', and three ripe schooners are now fitting for the service. This is the old business of Nantucket over again. May it prove profitable and acceptable." One of these schooners was the Hamilton, which sailed 12 June to cruise on the shoals (The Corrector, Sag Harbor, N.Y., 26 June 1852, from "New Bedford Shipping List"). The Hamilton took six humpbacks and struck but lost five more during the first 3 weeks of August 1852 on Nantucket Shoals (Allen, 1916:137). It is unclear whether right whales were among those whales that appeared off the Nantucket coast in the early 1850's. However, the occurrence of a group of right whales off Tuckernuck in April 1886, three of which were caught (a fourth was lost but later found dead and towed to New Bedford), was discussed by Allen (1916:138) and again by Stackpole (1982). The latter gave the year as 1887 (incorrectly: see Nantucket Inquirer and Whalemen's Shipping List).

Rhode Island

Allen (1916:168-170) found relatively little evidence of early shore whaling in present-day Rhode Island although bounties were being offered on whale oil and baleen in 1751. Such bounties had, in fact, already been offered on these commodities as early as 1731 (Arnold, 1860:103; Potter and Rider, 1880:31-32). The bounties were renewed for 10 years in 1738 but repealed in 1745 (Preston, 1932:28). During 1733-38, bounties were paid on 1,211 barrels of whale oil and 3,843 lb of baleen (equivalent to about 6 right whales at 657 lb of baleen per whale). By this time, some of the oil could have come from sperm whales and some of the oil and baleen from bowheads taken in cruises to the north. The sloop Pelican sailed from Newport in 1733 and returned with 114 barrels of oil and 200 lb of baleen (Arnold, 1860:110). Although the Pelican has been described as Rhode Island's "first regularly equipped" whaling vessel (Arnold, 1860:110), a vessel from Rhode Island took a large sperm whale in May 1723 (Starbuck, 1878:168).

The coastal Indians of Rhode Island had a tradition of using the products of drift whales (Arnold, 1859:85). Also, according to Arnold, whales were taken "often" with boats in Narragansett Bay before about 1750. The description of a whale's being taken off Narragansett Bay in March 1662 (Sporri, 1677; Bridenbaugh, 1974, app. V:144-45), "among the earliest accounts of fastening to a whale with a whaleboat in colonial America" (Kugler, 1980:8n), lends credence to Arnold's claim. The Narragansett Bay whalers attacked the whale in two boats, each carrying a crew of six or seven men, using the established European (Basque) technique of fastening to the whale with a harpoon and line. The March 1662 whale was definitely a right whale, judging by Sporri's (1677) description: "This fish was fifty-five feet long and sixteen feet high; it had only two fins; the tail was broad. Its blubber was two feet thick.... The teeth, which are as much as six feet long and saw-like, are the whale-bone which is shipped to us [in Holland]" (Bridenbaugh, 1974:145).

The inventories of possessions of Rhode Island residents during the early 1700's occasionally included quantities of baleen (e.g. Rogers et al., 1894a:249; 1894b:119). Rhode Island merchant vessels sometimes carried oil to the West Indies (e.g. in 1723--Preston, 1932:26), but much of it could have been the result of "previous trading with neighboring colonies" (Preston, 1932:28). The Rhode Island General Treasurer's accounts for 1723 indicate payment of 171 [pounds sterling] for 433 lb of baleen and 2 tons of oil (Preston, 1932:28).

Allen's (1916:135) record of a right whale killed "off Providence" in 1828 (his source was the Nantucket Inquirer of 1 March 1828, not 22 February as given) can be further described from information in The Gazette, New London, Conn., 27 February 1828 (citing The Cadet of Providence; also see Clark, 1887:48). The whale, "of the largest size," was chased by four whale boats (Fig. 11) and harpooned twice on 18 February. It was finally killed near Newport the next day by Captain Potter of Newport. This whale probably was the one seen near Providence lighthouse "some weeks since." Cope (1865, 1866) referred to the periotic bones of a large right whale from Newport, but he gave no further details to indicate whether this was a different specimen from that taken in 1828.

[Figure 11 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Connecticut

More shore whaling was probably conducted in Connecticut than is suggested by Allen's (1916:170) brief account. One company was offered a monopoly on whaling by the Connecticut General Court in 1647 (Trumbull, 1850:154), but we found no evidence of their taking up this often Caulkins (1895:638) understood the listing of a whale boat in an enumeration of goods to imply that "excursions were sometimes made in pursuit of whales" during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Two early diaries kept by Connecticut residents show that Caulkins was right. Comfort Davise rented Joshua Hempstead's whale boat "to go a whaling" at Fishers Island between 13 January and 20 February 1718 (Hempstead, 1901:72). Manasseh Minor, a Stonington farmer, may not have participated directly in whaling himself, but he reported the activities of whalers in his diary kept from 1696 to 1720 (Miner and Miner, 1915; our Table 6). At least five of his acquaintances were whalers. Some (Robin, Abnar, Pelig, and Abel) apparently were local; others (Sam Hand and associates) were from elsewhere, perhaps Long Island. At least three whales were taken on the Connecticut coast in early 1703 and one in March 1705.

Table 6.--Entries referring to whales or whaling in Manasseh Minor's diary, 1696-1720 (Miner and Miner, 1915). Entries are direct quotations.
Date               Entry                             Diary page

3 December 1697    Robin Abnar and pelig                 26
                   went a whalin.

17 October 1698    I went to fishars island              31
                   for oyle.

14 December 1702   Abell went a whaling.                 57

24 February 1703   Sam hand & Company cam hear.          59

25 February 1703   the whale brak their boat.            59

3 March 1703       ... a whale broght on shore.          59

4 March 1703       ... the boat lanched.                 59

5 March 1703       wee went to see the whale.            59

10 March 1703      a whale at wadawanvk.                 59

16 March 1703      Abel came from whaling.               59

22 March 1703      Samvel hand came a whaling.           59

23 March 1703      killed 3 whals amongst them....       59

27 March 1703      Sam hand went to cut his              59
                   great whale....

4 March 1705       ... a whal killed.                    75

8 March 1705       I sold one barill of sider            75
                   to the whalmen....

4 August 1706      wee feched the whal boat....          94

14 August 1706     we went to fishas island              94
                   in a whal boat.

22 April 1709      I feched the whal boat home.         115

21 December 1714   I brought oyle from SC.              120


These data substantiate the comment by Hurd (1882:677; reiterated by Wheeler, 1900:131) that as early as 1701, and for some time thereafter, whales were taken and brought ashore at Wadawanuck (Stonington Point). The oil was exported to Boston and the West Indies. A sloop was fitted out for whaling from New London in 1718 (Colby, 1990).

Some whaling took place in Long Island Sound during the 19th century. Reeves and Mitchell (1986a) listed several sightings and catches of right whales (and a sperm whale) in Long Island Sound, and additional records are given in Table 7. A whale seen for several days in New Haven harbor the first week of April 1824 was pursued by some "enterprising seamen" (Nantucket Inquirer, 12 Apr. 1824), but the "idle harpooners passing away their winter in New London" did not chase the two large whales seen between New London lighthouse and Fishers Island, late January 1835 (Nantucket Inquirer, 4 Feb. 1835). The reported capture of a "young" 60 ft whale in New Haven harbor, May 1834 (Watson, 1855, 2:429) may have been a hoax (Sag Harbor Corrector 13[5], 24 May 1834; Nantucket Inquirer, 10 May 1834, quoting from the New Haven Herald).

A 27-barrel right whale was taken off Stonington in about 1840, and another in the same group was killed and towed to Montauk, New York (Linsley, 1842:352n; both noted by Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a: their Table 1).

New York (Long Island)

Reeves and Mitchell (1986a) reconstructed much of the history of right whale hunting on the Long Island coast (Fig. 12). Here we present some additional information and data (Table 7). In reconstructing the catch, we have tried to avoid double-counting and thus have not generally included in the tables for the present paper those catches that were included in the tables of Reeves and Mitchell (1986a). The few records that are repeated are so designated.

[Figure 12 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

One of the earliest specific references to a Long Island whaling company concerns the fitting out of a small vessel by John Ogden in 1658, apparently at Southampton (Ross, 1902:871). In addition to Southampton and Easthampton, which definitely had whaling companies as early as 1650 and 1651, respectively, Southold, on Long Island Sound, had one in 1652 (Ross, 1902:872). Colonial correspondence with the London Board of Trade (C.O. 5, 1051, 26i; Public Record Office, Kew, Lond.) confirms that by 1664 Long Island residents were killing whales at sea. One individual claimed to have begun whaling in about 1666 and to have continued into the early 1700's. During this time, "the captors had good success, Laded several vessels with oyle and whale bone for this Kingdom [England] to purchase the manufacture of the same" (C.O. 5, 1051, 31iii; Public Record Office, Kew, Lond.).

Reeves and Mitchell (1986a) noted that at least 14 whaling companies were active in 1687 from Quogue (or Ketchaponack) east. R.M. Bayles (in Ross, 1902:872) listed 18 companies in 1690 from Mastic east. In 1699, Col. Smith, whose whaling company was based at Mastic, reported that he had cleared 500 [pounds sterling] sterling in a single year (Bayles, in Ross, 1902:873).

In 1726, 11 whales were killed at Southampton; six of them yielded 220 barrels of oil and 1,500 lb of baleen (Bayles, in Ross, 1902:873). This record was attributed to the season 1732-33 by Reeves and Mitchell (1986a, their Table 1). Samuel Mulford obtained some whale oil and baleen without a license late in 1705 (Headlam, 1930: 159), and this corroborates the evidence for a whale's being taken that year according to information in Mulford's diary (Reeves and Mitchell 1986a). Eight whaling licenses were issued in New York in 1705-09 (Headlam, 1930: 159).

A statement to the British Council of Trade and Plantations in 1717 indicated that "imports of whale oil and bone [baleen] from New York have greatly decreased, owing to disputes with the Governor as to a duty demanded for whales catched there" (Headlam, 1930:16). This belief, however, was disputed by Governor Hunter, who claimed that the whaling effort was constant or increasing on Long Island. The difference, according to Hunter, was that the products were being sold and exported from Boston rather than New York.

Reeves and Mitchell (1986a) failed to note that, according to Edwards and Rattray (1932:232), the whaling station at Smith's Point alone averaged 20 whales per winter during the early 18th century. Reeves and Mitchell (1986a) estimated that 20-30 whales were taken per year in the entire Long Island fishery between 1700 and 1725.

Reeves and Mitchell (1986a) had little evidence of shore whaling on Long Island at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th. They presented no catch data from 1784, when the schooner Eagle cruised along the south shore, to about 1815, when whaling definitely was being conducted. However, some whales were taken on the south coast of Long Island in the winter of 1801-02, and after being "much neglected," the whale fishery had "considerably increased" (Starr, 1876:72n).

Some whaling was conducted by the people of Staten Island. On 13 December 1705 a license was issued to Thomas Jones to take drift whales "on the gut joining Mr. Nicoll's land and the west end of Gravesend beach" (Leng and Davis, 1930, II:990). An unspecified quantity of oil and baleen was taken on or prior to 26 March 1711 "on Mereck beach, Rockaway beach and at Nicoll's beach" (Leng and Davis, 1930, II; also see Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a, their Table 1). Sometime in the spring of 1730 (before 9 April), Adam Mott, Joseph Carman, and company of Staten Island petitioned for the oil and baleen of a whale "wounded by them in the bay of New York, and afterwards cast ashore at Cape May" (Leng and Davis, 1930, II:991). Judging by the year, season, and locality, and the fact that baleen was at issue, this was probably a right whale. The Staten Island Whaling Company, which was active during the 1830's, apparently was concerned with pelagic whaling rather than shore whaling (Freedman et al., 1975).

A sloop sailed out of Moriches on the south coast of Long Island for whaling between Fire Island and Coney Island in 1831. It cruised daily for 40 days, sheltering each night at either Fire Island or Coney Island. One whale was sighted, but it was a finback, "a kind too lively to land with harpoons and lines" (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 Aug. 1899:12).

Reeves and Mitchell (1986a) mentioned that they had no evidence of schooners whaling along the coast of Long Island after the 1850's. However, Weiss et al. (1974:110) referred to a 40-barrel whale, worth $2,000, taken by two schooners off that coast in March 1860. The vessels had been whaling between New Jersey and Long Island for a month. It is likely that this was a right whale, considering the month and locality of capture and the great value of the whale in spite of its modest oil yield. A balaenid baleen plate 71.5 inches long scrimshawed with a panoramic view of what is thought to be Long Island Sound may be from mid 19th century Long Island whaling (Ball, 1994:95).

An East Bay sloop, the Branch, cruised for "whales, leatherback turtles, sea serpents, devilfish, etc." between East Moriches and Gravesend Bay during August and (possibly) September 1899 (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 Aug. 1899:12). We have no information on sightings or catches.

New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania

Shore whaling in areas south of Long Island began in the first half of the 17th century, and some whaling was still being conducted as recently as the late 19th century (Table 8). The Dutch were probably the first Europeans to hunt whales in and near Delaware Bay, although the bay had been discovered and named (St. Christopher's Bay) by the Spanish in 1525. A Dutch colony (called Swanendael) was established near Cape Henlopen in 1631 for the express purpose of whaling (Parr, 1969:108-114). After reviewing the information provided by van der Donck (1841) and De Vries (1853), Mead and Mitchell (1984:37) concluded that the whales hunted in Delaware Bay "may not have been right whales." Although some may have been gray whales, Eschrichtius robustus, as implied by Mead and Mitchell (1984), right whales were certainly taken (Table 8). Delaware Bay has been visited by right whales at least occasionally in recent years (Ulmer, 1961; Hamilton, 1995).

Table 8.--Records of right whales from the coasts of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
                                                  Whales

                                                           Struck/
Date               Locality               Seen     Taken    lost

5 Dec. 1632        Near Cape Hinlopen      1

1-2 Jan. 1633      Well inside             3
                   Delaware Bay

1 Jan.-end of      Delaware Bay                      7       10
March 1633

1646               North River             2

1668-1671          Navesink

Ca. 1683           Mouth of                         11
                   Delaware Bay

1684               Near mouth of                     9        3
                   Delaware Bay

1685               Delaware Bay                      1

1688               Delaware River up       1
                   as far as Trenton
                   Falls

Winter 1693-1694   Cape May                          8

Winter 1695-1696   Cape May                          2

Winter 1696-1697   Cape May                          +

Winter 1717-1718   Cape May                          6
                   Egg Harbor                       12

1730               North of Cape May                 1

April 1733         Delaware River
                   near Philadelphia

February 1736      Cape May                          2

Ca. April 1742     Eastward of                       2
                   Cape May

February 1744      Sandy Hook                      1[?]

March 1752         Briganteen Beach                  2

Spring 1753        Cape May                          6

February-April     Pecks Beach             3+
1756

March-April 1757   Five Mile Beach,        2+
                   Cape May Co.

February-March     Absecon                 2+
1759

April 1764         Townsend's Inlet        2+        1        1

February           Pecks Beach          "Plenty"     4
[and later] 1765   (Ocean City),
                   Ludlam's Beach
                   (Cape May Co.)

January 1766       Pecks Beach             +

1766               "Below the Narrows
                   on the east side"

September 1766     Coney Island                      1

1782               Manasquan Beach                   1

1792               Absecon Beach                     1

1803               Absecon Bar                       1

1809               Delaware River                    1
                   near Chester, Pa.

1813               Absecon Beach                     1

November 1814      Delaware River                    1
                   just below Trenton
                   Bridge

6 May 1820         Sandy Hook                                 1

13 May 1820        Sandy Hook                        1

20 May 1820        Sandy Hook(?)                     1

1824               Near Bayonne, N.J.

End of             Cape May
March 1825

8 November 1861    Delaware River          1
                   near Richmond

1862               Delaware River                    1
                   near Philadelphia

Ca. 1864-1865      Raritan Bay                     1[?]

30 May 1874        Raritan River near                1
                   Sayreville

Ca. 10 May 1878    Long Branch                       1

Spring 1882        Near Egg Harbor                   1

1900-1910          Asbury Park

                                            Whales         I.D.
                                                         certainty
Date               Locality             Chased   Drift      (1)

5 Dec. 1632        Near Cape Hinlopen                        2

1-2 Jan. 1633      Well inside                               2
                   Delaware Bay

1 Jan.-end of      Delaware Bay                              1
March 1633

1646               North River                               1

1668-1671          Navesink                        1         1

Ca. 1683           Mouth of                                  1
                   Delaware Bay

1684               Near mouth of                             1
                   Delaware Bay

1685               Delaware Bay                              1

1688               Delaware River up                         2
                   as far as Trenton
                   Falls

Winter 1693-1694   Cape May                                  1

Winter 1695-1696   Cape May                                  1

Winter 1696-1697   Cape May                                  1

Winter 1717-1718   Cape May                                  1
                   Egg Harbor                                1

1730               North of Cape May                         2

April 1733         Delaware River         2                  2
                   near Philadelphia

February 1736      Cape May                                  2

Ca. April 1742     Eastward of                               1
                   Cape May

February 1744      Sandy Hook                                2

March 1752         Briganteen Beach                          1

Spring 1753        Cape May                                  2

February-April     Pecks Beach                               2
1756

March-April 1757   Five Mile Beach,                          2
                   Cape May Co.

February-March     Absecon                                   2
1759

April 1764         Townsend's Inlet       2+                 1

February           Pecks Beach                               2
[and later] 1765   (Ocean City),
                   Ludlam's Beach
                   (Cape May Co.)

January 1766       Pecks Beach                               2

1766               "Below the Narrows              1         2
                   on the east side"

September 1766     Coney Island                              2

1782               Manasquan Beach                           2

1792               Absecon Beach                             2

1803               Absecon Bar                               1

1809               Delaware River                            2
                   near Chester, Pa.

1813               Absecon Beach                   1         2

November 1814      Delaware River                            1
                   just below Trenton
                   Bridge

6 May 1820         Sandy Hook                                2

13 May 1820        Sandy Hook                                1

20 May 1820        Sandy Hook(?)                             2

1824               Near Bayonne, N.J.              1         2

End of             Cape May               +                  2
March 1825

8 November 1861    Delaware River                            2
                   near Richmond

1862               Delaware River                            1
                   near Philadelphia

Ca. 1864-1865      Raritan Bay                               1

30 May 1874        Raritan River near                        1
                   Sayreville

Ca. 10 May 1878    Long Branch                               1

Spring 1882        Near Egg Harbor                           1

1900-1910          Asbury Park                     1         2

Date               Locality             Comments

5 Dec. 1632        Near Cape Hinlopen

1-2 Jan. 1633      Well inside
                   Delaware Bay

1 Jan.-end of      Delaware Bay         32 barrels of oil;
March 1633                              the 7 secured whales
                                        were the smallest of
                                        those struck.

1646               North River          1 "grounded on an
                                        island."

1668-1671          Navesink             1 whale "cast ashore" and
                                        "delivered to" a whaling
                                        company

Ca. 1683           Mouth of
                   Delaware Bay

1684               Near mouth of        All before 4 April.
                   Delaware Bay

1685               Delaware Bay

1688               Delaware River up
                   as far as Trenton
                   Falls

Winter 1693-1694   Cape May

Winter 1695-1696   Cape May             "Old cow and calf."

Winter 1696-1697   Cape May             "Made a great voyage."

Winter 1717-1718   Cape May
                   Egg Harbor

1730               North of Cape May    "Cow" whale, 50 ft long,
                                        stranded, apparently
                                        killed by local whalers.

April 1733         Delaware River       Cow and calf.
                   near Philadelphia

February 1736      Cape May             40 barrels of oil.

Ca. April 1742     Eastward of          Ca. 4 1/2 ft bone,
                   Cape May             near 7 ft bone.

February 1744      Sandy Hook           36 ft long,
                                        tail 10 ft broad.

March 1752         Briganteen Beach     1 a yearling, 1 a stunt.

Spring 1753        Cape May

February-April     Pecks Beach
1756

March-April 1757   Five Mile Beach,
                   Cape May Co.

February-March     Absecon
1759

April 1764         Townsend's Inlet     Secured whale sank and
                                        was recovered 2 days
                                        later; 23 barrels oil,
                                        230 lbs bone,
                                        4ft 8 in. long.

February           Pecks Beach
[and later] 1765   (Ocean City),
                   Ludlam's Beach
                   (Cape May Co.)

January 1766       Pecks Beach

1766               "Below the Narrows   Cast ashore, 49 ft long.
                   on the east side"

September 1766     Coney Island         40 ft long, 70 barrels
                                        oil (expected); taken by
                                        2 men from Elizabethtown,
                                        N.J., at Coney Island,
                                        N.Y.

1782               Manasquan Beach      Found dead 15 Sept. with
                                        harpoon in carcass.

1792               Absecon Beach        Washed ashore at Absecon
                                        bearing 2-3 harpoons.

1803               Absecon Bar          Stranded on Absecon Bar;
                                        had been struck and lost
                                        by Long Beach Island
                                        whalers.

1809               Delaware River
                   near Chester, Pa.

1813               Absecon Beach        Dead whale floated
                                        ashore.

November 1814      Delaware River       22 ft long,
                   just below Trenton   1 ft 8 in. baleen.
                   Bridge

6 May 1820         Sandy Hook

13 May 1820        Sandy Hook

20 May 1820        Sandy Hook(?)        Washed ashore in Long
                                        Island Sound, thought to
                                        have been harpooned
                                        earlier off Sandy Hook.

1824               Near Bayonne, N.J.   Washed ashore on 7 April,
                                        52 ft or 58 ft long.

End of             Cape May
March 1825

8 November 1861    Delaware River       Swimming downstream.
                   near Richmond

1862               Delaware River       37 ft.
                   near Philadelphia

Ca. 1864-1865      Raritan Bay

30 May 1874        Raritan River near   48 ft (or 42 ft),
                   Sayreville           4 ft baleen

Ca. 10 May 1878    Long Branch          "A Greenland whale";
                                        42 ft, expected to
                                        produce 60 bbls oil.

Spring 1882        Near Egg Harbor      "Shot with a rifle,
                                        hacked with an axe,
                                        and at last killed with
                                        a harpoon"; 48 ft,
                                        female.

1900-1910          Asbury Park          "Enormous whale was
                                        washed ashore."

Date               Locality             Sources

5 Dec. 1632        Near Cape Hinlopen   Parr, 1969:118.

1-2 Jan. 1633      Well inside          Parr, 1969:125.
                   Delaware Bay

1 Jan.-end of      Delaware Bay         Parr, 1969:127, 130.
March 1633

1646               North River          Weiss et al., 1974:103.

1668-1671          Navesink             Weiss et al., 1974:16.

Ca. 1683           Mouth of             Watson, 1855,
                   Delaware Bay         vol.2, p. 428.

1684               Near mouth of        Weiss et al., 1974:15.
                   Delaware Bay

1685               Delaware Bay         Lipton, 1975:11;
                                        Weiss et al., 1974:24.

1688               Delaware River up    Watson, 1855,
                   as far as Trenton    vol. 2, p. 428.
                   Falls

Winter 1693-1694   Cape May             Beesley, 1857:175-176.

Winter 1695-1696   Cape May             Beesley, 1857:175-176.

Winter 1696-1697   Cape May             Beesley, 1857:175-176.

Winter 1717-1718   Cape May             Weiss et al., 1974:22, 34
                   Egg Harbor           [The Boston Newsletter,
                                        24 March 1718].

1730               North of Cape May    Watson, 1855,
                                        vol. 2, p. 429.

April 1733         Delaware River       Watson, 1855,
                   near Philadelphia    vol. 2, p. 429.

February 1736      Cape May             Watson, 1855,
                                        vol. 2, p. 429.

Ca. April 1742     Eastward of          Lipton, 1975:17 [Boston
                   Cape May             Gazette or Weekly Journal
                                        of May 11, 1742];
                                        Weiss et al., 1974:22.

February 1744      Sandy Hook           Weiss et al.,
                                        1974, p. 104
                                        [This Old Monmouth
                                        of Ours, W.S. Horner,
                                        Freehold. 1932].

March 1752         Briganteen Beach     Table 9.

Spring 1753        Cape May             Weiss et al., 1974:22
                                        [Sarah A. Thomas.
                                        Cape May Co. Mag. Hist.
                                        And Geneal.,
                                        June 1950, p. 118].

February-April     Pecks Beach          Table 9.
1756

March-April 1757   Five Mile Beach,     Table 9.
                   Cape May Co.

February-March     Absecon              Table 9.
1759

April 1764         Townsend's Inlet     Table 9.

February           Pecks Beach          Table 9.
[and later] 1765   (Ocean City),
                   Ludlam's Beach
                   (Cape May Co.)

January 1766       Pecks Beach          Table 9.

1766               "Below the Narrows   Weiss et al., 1974:104
                   on the east side"    [Journals of Capt.
                                        Montressor. N.Y.
                                        Historical Society
                                        Collections,
                                        vol. 14, 1881].

September 1766     Coney Island         Weiss et al., 1974:104
                                        [Proc. N.J. Hist. Soc.,
                                        vol. 13, no. 4, 1928].

1782               Manasquan Beach      Weiss et al., 1974:18, 104
                                        [New Jersey Gazette,
                                        Oct. 9, 1782].

1792               Absecon Beach        Weiss et al., 1974:34
                                        [Wilson, H. 1953.
                                        The Jersey Shore].

1803               Absecon Bar          Lipton, 1975:17 [Kraft,
                                        B.R. 1960]; Weiss et al.,
                                        1974:34, 104 [Wilson, H.
                                        1953. The Jersey Shore].

1809               Delaware River       Watson, 1855, vol. 2,
                   near Chester, Pa.    p. 429; contra Weiss et
                                        al., 1974:109.

1813               Absecon Beach        Weiss et al., 1974:104-105
                                        [Diary of Samuel Mickle,
                                        in Notes on Old Gloucester
                                        County, N.J. F.H. Steward,
                                        Ed., 1917, vol. 1,
                                        p. 197].

November 1814      Delaware River       Weiss et al., 1974:18,
                   just below Trenton   105, 109, 111 [Sussex
                   Bridge               Register]; Rhoads,
                                        1903:11.

6 May 1820         Sandy Hook           See text.

13 May 1820        Sandy Hook           See text.

20 May 1820        Sandy Hook(?)        Weiss et al., 1974:18,
                                        105; see text.

1824               Near Bayonne, N.J.   Weiss et al.,
                                        1974:18, 105-106
                                        [The Washington Whig,
                                        Bridgeton, N.J.,
                                        Aug. 28, 1824].

End of             Cape May             Weiss et al., 1974:22 [The
March 1825                              Bridgeton Observer and
                                        Cumberland, Cape May and
                                        Salem Advertiser, April 2,
                                        1825].

8 November 1861    Delaware River       Weiss et al., 1974:106.
                   near Richmond

1862               Delaware River       Cope, 1865, 1866.
                   near Philadelphia

Ca. 1864-1865      Raritan Bay          New York Times, 15 March
                                        1891.

30 May 1874        Raritan River near   Cope, 1874:89; Rhoads,
                   Sayreville           1903:11.

Ca. 10 May 1878    Long Branch          New York Times,
                                        12 May 1878.

Spring 1882        Near Egg Harbor      Weiss et al.,
                                        1974:110-111;
                                        Holder, 1883.

1900-1910          Asbury Park          Weiss et al., 1974:107
                                        [Postcard in Special
                                        Collections, Rutgers
                                        University Library].


(1) The degree of certainty of our identification of the whales as right whales was evaluated according to the following criteria: 1=whale was taken by shore whalers in 1725 or earlier; baleen at least 3 ft long or considered worth saving; yield 40 barrels oil or more; whale clearly identified as a balaenid by our source (any one of these criteria is sufficient). 2=whale was taken after 1725; no definite evidence it was a balaenid, but also no definite evidence that it was not. See Table 3, footnote 1.

The promise of shore whaling was a major inducement for the first British settlers on the New Jersey shore and in the mouth of Delaware Bay (Beesley, 1857:171). Many came from Long Island (Williamson, 1951; Wood, 1968) where an organized whale fishery was active by 1650 and possibly earlier (see above). Whalers from Connecticut and Long Island might have hunted whales along the coast of Cape May and in the mouth of Delaware Bay as early as 1638 (Alexander, 1975:185). Licenses were granted to companies of shore whalers operating from Navesink and Sandy Hook south to Long Beach Island in 1668 and 1678 (Lipton, 1975:18). William Penn referred to a well-established whale hunt at the mouth of Delaware Bay by 1683 (Watson, 1855, II:428). A catch of 11 whales in one season suggests that the enterprise was successful.

The earliest permanent European settlement in Cape May County is believed to have been established by whalers in about 1685 (Alexander, 1975:185), by which year three companies were whaling in the mouth of Delaware Bay (Weiss et al., 1974:15; Lipton, 1975:5) and whales were being hunted "from Sandy Hook to the Delaware Cape" (Weiss et al., 1974:32). Certainly by 1691 Cape May town, at Town Bank on the Bay shore, was recognized as "the residence of the whalers, consisting of a number of dwellings" (Beesley, 1857:163). Beesley inferred from the close contiguity of the 15-20 houses shown on a contemporary map of Town Bank that the early whalers cooperated in an organized hunt. Another source refers to 13 houses in Cape May town in 1696 (Beesley, 1857:177). Beesley (1857:171) identified 21 individual whalemen living in Cape May County before 1700, and he believed that there were many others.

In 1692 the New Jersey Assembly asserted the province's prerogative to profit from all whales killed in Delaware Bay. Complaining that until then, the whaling had been "in so great a measure invaded by strangers and foreigners" who exported the oil and baleen without duty, the Assembly required that a tenth of the value of the oil from all whales killed in Delaware Bay be paid to the governor. The West New Jersey Society, a group of London businessmen, tried to develop whaling in Cape May County during the early 1690's (Weiss et al., 1974:21). "Great numbers" of whales and "prodigious" quantities of oil and baleen were taken each year in Cape May County, according to Gabriel Thomas (1952), writing in 1698.

A manuscript by Thomas Leaming, 1674-1723, provides some detailed information on 17th century whaling at Cape May (Beesley, 1857:175-6; also see Lipton, 1975:7). Leaming whaled in four consecutive winter seasons, 1694-98. The first year he reported that eight whales were caught and the next year at least a cow and calf were taken. The third season was apparently successful, but all we learn from Leaming is that he "made a great voyage." No hint is given about his catch in the fourth season. Leaming's father, Christopher, had moved to Cape May from Long Island in about 1691 (Beesley, 1857:176). When not whaling, Christopher Learning worked as a cooper. This occupation was lucrative at the time because "the great number of whales caught in those days, made the demand and pay for casks certain."

All evidence seems to suggest that the years when Thomas Leaming was whaling represented the peak of the Delaware Bay whale fishery. The tract owners at Town Bank sold their land and left the area soon after Christopher Leaming's death in 1696 (Anonymous, 1976). Humphrey Hughes, a Long Island whaleman who immigrated to Cape May County about 1689, sold his land, which had been owned jointly with another whaler, in about 1700 (Williamson, 1951). Although Cape May and Delaware Bay whaling may have been past its peak by the 1700's, it continued long after that time.

John Peck was whaling at Pecks Beach (now Ocean City, N.J.) in about 1700 (Darby, 1951), and whaling was still being conducted at the mouth of Delaware Bay, on both the Cape May and Cape Henlopen sides, in 1708 (Oldmixon, 1708). Apparently referring to the first half of the 18th century, Darby (1951:137) claimed: "Whaling was still a flourishing industry, the whalemen working from the shore in small open boats."

The diary of Aaron Leaming, Jr., includes the following entries for the month of February 1737 (Dickinson, 1979:550): on the 4th "They kill a whale"; on the 22nd "The whalemen chased the whales & struck two." Whalers settled permanently on Long Beach Island as early as 1690, and their efforts to catch whales continued, possibly without any major interruption, through at least the 1820's (Lipton, 1975:23-26). The average catch by Stephen Inman's family in the early 1820's was two or three whales per season, producing 40-50 barrels of oil per year (Watson, 1855, II, app.:547). In a letter to his son Tucker in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Philip Taber (1745) reported the recent arrival of George Sisson at Sandy Hook. Sisson and his associates were eager to "go off a whaling," and they wanted Taber's son to bring a whale boat and "some good hands" to aid their efforts. This letter has been interpreted as evidence that "New Bedford vessels were engaged in offshore whaling" (meaning pelagic whaling) in the 1740's (Littlefield, 1965:5n). However, it seems more likely to us that these New Englanders planned to whale in New Jersey from shore. Such an interpretation would be consistent with that of Lipton (1975:22-23).

The diary of Lewis Cresse (1968), who whaled along the New Jersey shore between Brigantine and Five Mile Beach at least from 1752 to 1766, mentions numerous sightings; one whale struck and probably killed, but lost, and one secured in 1764; and four taken in 1765 (Table 9).

Table 9.--Whaling data from Lewis Cresse's diary, 1752-1766. Source: Cresse (1968); some parts of the diary were quoted by Lipton (1975:15-16) and Weiss at al. (1974:26-28).
           Whaling season

Year   Start date   End date         Sightings

1752   ?            ?                ?

1753   1 March      1st week April   ?

1754   27 Feb.      9 April          0

1755   7 March      8 April          "Saw Several Spouts at
                                     Several times but Concluded
                                     they was chiefly fin backs."

1756   24 Feb.      7 April          One in late Feb.; "several"
                                     in late March or early Apr.

1757   4 March      15 April         "Saw Whales and Spouts
                                     Several times."

1758   3 April      18 April         0

1759   26 Feb.      26 March         "Saw Several Spouts."

1760   4 March      2 April          0

1764   ?            ?                "Plenty" on 2 April;
                                     more on 9 April.

1765   February     ?                "Plenty".

1766   28 Jan.      ?                "Saw no whales onely
                                     Sore Spouts."

Year   Struck/lost        Killed/secured         Whaling sites

1752   ?                  1 "stunt" on 23        Briganteen
                          March; 1 "yearling"    Beech
                          on ca 22 March

1753   0                  0                      Briganteen

1754   0                  0                      Absecon

1755   0                  0                      Briganteen

1756   0                  0                      Pecks Beech

1757   0                  0                      Five mile
                                                 Beech

1758   0                  0                      "Rangd as far
                                                 as briginteen."

1759   0                  0                      Absecon

1760   0                  0                      Briganteen

1764   1; "it was         1 killed 9 Apr.,       Five mile
       generally agreed   sank, came ashore 11   Beetch;
       She would Die of   Apr. "west of the      Townsends Inlet
       the wound"         Dry inlet"; 23 bbls,
       (2 April).         230 lbs bone
                          (4 ft 8 in. long).

1765   0                  2 by Cresse's          Seven Mile
                          company.; 1 by them    Beach;
                          in cooperation with    Peck Beach;
                          Ludlams Beach          Ludlams Beach
                          company.; 1 by
                          Ludlams Beach
                          company alone.

1766   0                  0                      Pecks Beach


At the same time that Cresse was whaling along the coast of New Jersey, some Cape May whalemen were exploring grounds farther south. Twelve men and two whale boats sailed aboard the sloop Susannah in November 1753, bound for a winter of whaling along the Carolina coast (Smith, 1973:34; Reeves and Mitchell, 1988, provide a derivative summary). After some desultory whaling near Cape Lookout, the men established a whaling camp at Lockwood Folly Inlet, southern North Carolina, then returned to Cape May in March 1754, having had no success (Smith, 1973:41). They were essentially shore whalers, and we regard their expedition of 1753-54 as corroborative evidence that shore whaling around Cape May had become less profitable by this time.

Aaron Leaming, Jr., writing in 1772, claimed that whaling had "long since" failed in Cape May County (Leaming, 1978). A whale was taken in 1723, a "yearling" in 1731, and another "yearling" in spring 1772. In the same document, Leaming wrote that no whales had been brought ashore between 1732 and 1771, in spite of the fact that some effort was maintained: "... they went a whaling on this beach every year for 40 years" after 1731. Up to 12 boats were involved. In 1772, Leaming guessed that six or seven whale boats were still in use, each with a crew of six. Leaming considered whaling to have become nothing more than a pretext for the "whalemen" to roam the beaches in pursuit of other game: "Whaling seems to be the least part of their Errand. For they carry Guns and repair to the Beaches & Gun for Deer foxes Raccoons...." He was particularly incensed by the fact that such activities disturbed the cattle that were allowed to forage on or near the beach. We cannot explain the discrepancy between Leaming's two accounts regarding the dates of whale captures. He may have failed to mention the 1737 capture simply to strengthen his case against the whalemen, or he may have forgotten in what year prior to 1772 the last whale had been taken. From 1810 to 1820 a crew of seven men led by Captain John Sprague of Manahawkin "followed whaling exclusively," launching their whaleboat from the beach whenever a whale was sighted (Clark, 1887:48). Results were described as "fair."

In the spring of 1820, whales were reported as "frequently seen in the neighborhood of Sandy-Hook" (Commercial Advertiser, N.Y., 15 May 1820). This prompted a crew to go whaling in the pilot boat Clinton. As far as we know, only one whale was taken in three cruises by the Clinton. Although initially reported as a "young" 45 ft sperm whale (Centinel of Freedom, Newark, 16 May 1820) and cited as such by Weiss et al. (1974:105), this whale, struck about 7 miles from Sandy Hook on 13 May, was almost certainly a right whale (True American, Trenton, 5 June 1820; Weiss et al. 1974:110). Another large whale had been struck "on the bar" near Sandy Hook, 6 May; it escaped bearing two irons and towing 18 fathoms of line with a drag attached (Centinel of Freedom, 9 May 1820). Weiss et al. (1974) incorrectly stated that this whale was cut free "while it was being towed in." The whale was in fact towing the boat at the time of cutting, according to their source, and their conclusion that the whale secured 13 May was the one struck on 6 May is not supported by the information in the newspaper sources that they cite. The whale struck but lost 6 May was probably also a right whale, and all or most of the 25-30 whales seen during the Clinton's second cruise could have been right whales. The whale that washed ashore in Long Island Sound 20 May 1820 could have been one of those struck a week or two earlier off Sandy Hook (Weiss et al. 1974:18, 105).

More whaling took place off Sandy Hook during 1822-23 (Reeves and Mitchell 1986a). The sloops Ocean of Sag Harbor and Hampton of Providence were involved, along with one or more smacks from New London. In early April 1822, "another" large whale was taken off Sandy Hook (Allen, 1916:134; Nantucket Inquirer, 4 April 1822), the implication being that this was not the first that season. Ulmer (1961) believed that whaling had ended in New Jersey by 1833.

Although we believe that the vessels cruising along the New Jersey and Long Island coasts were in search of right whales primarily, sperm whales were taken occasionally. Vessels returning from more distant, lengthy cruises also took sperm whales. For example, the ship Mamfield of Hudson, arriving in New York 21 March 1839 from a 21-month voyage to the South Atlantic (Starbuck, 1878:342-343), encountered a large school of sperm whales off Cape May (Sag Harbor Corrector, 27 Mar. 1839). Five were killed, but two of these were lost because of darkness. The blubber of the other three was brought into port on deck.

It appears that by the second half of the 19th century, organized whaling had been discontinued and that the few documented kills along the New Jersey coast in the 1870's and early 1880's were the result of chance encounters rather than of systematic watching or searching. For example, Long Branch fishermen "drove" a 42 ft whale to shore and killed it with a scythe in May 1878 (New York Times, 12 May 1878). Judging by its expected oil yield (60 barrels) and the fact that it was identified in a newspaper account as a "Greenland whale," this was probably a right whale. The same article claimed that "several of the species [i.e. `Greenland whales'] have been seen off the coast recently." A right whale with 5 ft 9 inch baleen was captured in spring 1882 by "a crew of experienced Egg Harbor [N.J.] whalers" (Holder, 1883:106). At the time, an old man told a reporter for the New York Evening Post (24 Oct. 1883) that his great-grandfather "used to catch all the blubber he could tend to right off Long Branch." Apparently, this particular whaleman had given up whaling before the War of Independence (1776). The reporter claimed that after a century of little or no whaling, whales had, by 1883, "growed plenty again, and the old Jersey fishin' has revived." Probably referring to the Egg Harbor specimen of 1882, he noted that a right whale had been taken recently on the New Jersey coast and that "a regular crew of whalers ... are in the business there." He added that "numbers of boats all down the coast make daily trips to sea in search of whales." This last statement is difficult to evaluate. At face value, it could be taken to suggest that shore whaling effort increased during the early 1880's not only locally (near Egg Harbor), but also along much of the New Jersey coast and southward. However, the only example given in support of the statement is a reference to Manigault's remark (in Holder 1883) that several schooners were "now engaged in their [right whales'] pursuit" off South Carolina (Fig. 13). As discussed elsewhere (Reeves and Mitchell, 1988), Manigault probably had in mind the New England vessels that made winter cruises for right whales on the Southeast U.S. Coast Ground from the mid-1870's through the 1880's (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986b).

[Figure 13 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In early December 1886 a large whale that had been seen alive in the Delaware River for several days died, supposedly after being crushed between two ice floes (New York Times, 9 Dec. 1886). The carcass was towed to Philadelphia where the blubber and baleen, expected to be worth $800, were removed. Considering the timing of the whale's appearance and the fact that its baleen was saved, it was probably a right whale. Three whales seen close to shore off Cape May the first week of November 1893 drew a crowd of onlookers, and local fishermen made plans to attempt their capture on the 6th (New York Tribune, 6 Nov. 1893:1).

British Customs Records

Whale products imported by Great Britain from the American colonies during the first third of the 18th century (Tables 10, 11, 12) were likely from whales killed somewhere between Newfoundland and the Carolinas. Although some whale products may have been trans-shipped between colonies (e.g. from Carolina to New England--see Reeves and Mitchell, 1988; Little, 1988; from Long Island to Boston--see above), we have no reason to suspect that the oil and baleen exported from Boston, New York, or Philadelphia came from anywhere other than the western North Atlantic.

Table 10.--Whale products from New England imported by Great Britain (London and outports combined), 1696-1734. Source: CUST 2 and 3, Public Record Office, Lond.
                               Oil        Baleen
Period(1)                    (U.S. gal)    (lb)

25 Sep 1696-25 Mar 1697(2)    31,235       8,526
25 Mar 1697-25 Sep 1697(3)       757
25 Sep 1697-25 Sep 1698       29,998           7
25 Sep 1698-25 Dec 1698        5,182
1696-1699                     34,077
1699-1700                    105,844      13,527
1700-1701                     90,649      22,985
1701-1702                    120,824      62,530
1702-1703                     64,983(4)   15,859
1703-1704                     53,956      35,664
[No data for 1704-1705]
1705-1706                      2,560(5)    1,342
1706-1707                    131,931       3,210
1707-1708                    151,381(6)   15,583
1708-1709                     65,450      12,045
1709-1710                    100,202      18,377
1710-1711                     89,154      17,140
[No data for 1711-1712]
1712-1713                     68,833      28,929
1713-1714                    114,649      26,062
1714-1715                    193,569      34,651
1715-1716                    172,605      57,169
1716-1717                     90,209      13,950
1717-1718                    148,810      16,660
1718-1719                    133,564      34,143
1719-1720                    180,255      48,444
1720-1721                    241,771      40,260
1721-1722                    151,172      28,996
1722-1723                    196,434      42,111
1723-1724                    203,861      90,870
1724-1725                    177,252(7)   67,141
1725-1726(8)                 177,135      68,310
[No data for 1726-1727]
1727-1728                    259,829      61,621
1728-1729                    168,019      27,705
1729-1730(9)                 258,333      89,834
1730-1731                    180,525      39,500
1731-1732                    234,886      26,887
1732-1733                    233,075      45,495
1733-1734                    343,973      67,884

                              Value of oil    Value of baleen
                                (pounds           (pounds
                               sterling:         sterling:
Period(1)                         s:d)             s:d)

25 Sep 1696-25 Mar 1697(2)       1,486:0:11           228:7:6
25 Mar 1697-25 Sep 1697(3)           36:0:0             0:0:0
25 Sep 1697-25 Sep 1698          1,664:16:8             0:8:9
25 Sep 1698-25 Dec 1698        286:18:9 3/4
1696-1699                     1,756:6:6 1/2
1699-1700                        5,035:19:5           936:0:5
1700-1701                        4,312:19:5    1,641:15:8 1/4
1701-1702                         5,749:0:0     4,466:8:6 3/4
1702-1703                         3,091:4:4     1,097:7:8 1/2
1703-1704                    2,566:19:9 3/4        2,407:10:7
[No data for 1704-1705]
1705-1706                          121:10:0       95:17:1 1/2
1706-1707                        6,276:18:6       229:5:8 1/2
1707-1708                    7,202:13:3 1/2         1,113:1:5
1708-1709                        3,222:2:11      859:17:1 1/2
1709-1710                     4,767:5:1 1/2   1,312:12:10 1/4
1710-1711                         4,242:3:9         1,224:5:9
[No data for 1711-1712]
1712-1713                    3,274:17:7 3/4         2,066:7:2
1713-1714                        5,454:12:4    1,861:11:9 1/4
1714-1715                         9,210:1:5        2,417:18:9
1715-1716                        8,212:15:8        7,283:9:11
1716-1717                        4,291:10:9           996:8:6
1717-1718                         7,080:4:3        1,115:12:6
1718-1719                        6,354:13:4        2,438:15:8
1719-1720                        8,576:12:3         3,460:5:7
1720-1721                        11,503:7:6        2,875:14:2
1721-1722                        7,192:17:1        2,071:2:10
1722-1723                        9,346:12:4        3,007:18:6
1723-1724                         9,700:2:9        6,490:14:2
1724-1725                        8,423:10:5        4,795:15:8
1725-1726(8)                      8,428:7:7         4,879:5:8
[No data for 1726-1727]
1727-1728                       12,540:19:1        4,401:10:0
1728-1729                         8,042:1:9        1,978:18:6
1729-1730(9)                    12,292:1:11        6,416:14:2
1730-1731                         8,589:6:6         2,821:8:6
1731-1732                      11,175:19:10        1,920:10:0
1732-1733                       11,089:11:4       3,249:12:10
1733-1734                        16,366:9:5        4,848:17:0


(1) From 25 Dec. 1698, all periods are Christmas to Christmas.

(2) In addition, 75 lb of spermaceti (fine) valued at 8-9 shillings per lb.

(3) Also for this period, 31 gal of train oil was imported from New Providence.

(4) Of this amount, 246 tuns, 3 hogsheads, 57 gal was classified as "ordinary oil," but the value was given as 11-13 [pounds sterling] per tun, i.e. the same as for train oil. Thus, we have considered it as whale oil.

(5) In addition, 39,626 gal of "ordinary oil," valued at 30 [pounds sterling] per tun, or at about 2.5 times the value of train.

(6) In addition, 525 gal of "ordinary oil," valued at 24-30 [pounds sterling] per tun.

(7) In addition, 2 hogsheads of "blubber" valued at 8-9 [pounds sterling] per tun.

(8) In addition, 154 oz of ambergris valued at 18-20 [pounds sterling] per oz.

(9) In addition, 113 cwt 3 qtr 5 lb of spermaceti valued at 5:10-8:10 [pounds sterling] per cwt.

Table 11.--Whale products from New York imported by Great Britain (London and outports combined), 1696-1734. Source: CUST 2 and 3, Public Record Office, Lond.
                                 Oil       Baleen
Period(1)                    (U.S. gal)     (lb)

25 Sep 1696-25 Sep 1697(2)     28,968       8,254
25 Sep 1697-25 Dec 1698(3)        565
1698-1699                       1,242         202
1699-1700                      15,639
1700-1701                      15,016       2,509
1701-1702                          38         224
1702-1703(4)                   11,545       5,301
1703-1704                       3,379         756
[No data for 1704-1705]
1705-1706                         623(5)      168
1706-1707                      31,980       1,182
1707-1708                       9,738         168
1708-1709                      10,752       6,033
1709-1710                       9,628      46,430
1710-1711                       9,488       1,364
[No data for 1711-1712]
1712-1713                         141       3,797
1713-1714                       5,916       3,675
1714-1715                      15,111       2,719
1715-1716                       5,756         682
1716-1717                       2,774         174
1717-1718                      20,497      16,240
1718-1719                      15,253       5,746
1719-1720                      19,233       3,840
1720-1721                      15,938       2,910
1721-1722                       1,879       2,488
1722-1723                      10,493       2,105
1723-1724                         560      11,628
1724-1725                         789       1,204
1725-1726                       8,232       6,048
[No data for 1726-1727]
1727-1728                       1,702         269
1728-1729                         950           0
1729-1730                       1,009         542
1730-1731                           0         169
1731-1732(6)                    1,906           0
1732-1733                       4,099       1,576
1733-1734                       3,094       1,080

                              Value of oil    Value of baleen
                                ([pounds         ([pounds
Period(1)                    sterling]:s:d)   sterling]:s:d)

25 Sep 1696-25 Sep 1697(2)   1,263:5:10 3/4       221:1:9 1/2
25 Sep 1697-25 Dec 1698(3)      30:16:7 1/4
1698-1699                          63:11:09            10:7:5
1699-1700                          743:12:4
1700-1701                       714:8:5 1/2      177:14:7 1/2
1701-1702                             1:9:4            16:0:0
1702-1703(4)                       548:16:3         378:12:11
1703-1704                          160:10:0            54:0:0
[No data for 1704-1705]
1705-1706                            36:9:9            12:0:0
1706-1707                         1,521:1:3            84:8:7
1707-1708                      463:2:10 1/2            12:0:0
1708-1709                          510:16:2      430:13:6 1/4
1709-1710                      457:15:2 3/4     3,316:8:6 3/4
1710-1711                           451:4:8            97:8:3
[No data for 1711-1712]
1712-1713                        5:12:1 1/2       271:4:3 1/4
1713-1714                      281:0:11 1/4          262:10:0
1714-1715                           718:3:1           194:4:3
1715-1716                          273:15:0           48:11:4
1716-1717                           132:0:0            12:8:6
1717-1718                           975:4:8       1,159:19:11
1718-1719                           724:6:1           410:8:6
1719-1720                          913:14:3           274:5:8
1720-1721                           758:0:0          207:17:0
1721-1722                          206:14:0          177:14:3
1722-1723                          498:11:4           150:7:1
1723-1724                            26:3:9          830:11:5
1724-1725                            37:5:9            86:0:0
1725-1726                          390:18:6           432:0:0
[No data for 1726-1727]
1727-1728                            80:9:6            19:4:2
1728-1729                           45:2:10                 0
1729-1730                            48:0:0           38:14:3
1730-1731                                              12:1:5
1731-1732(6)                        90:11:5                 0
1732-1733                           195:0:0          112:11:5
1733-1734                          146:13:4           77:2:10


(1) From 25 Dec. 1698, periods covered are Christmas to Christmas.

(2) In addition, 1 cwt, 1 qtr of spermaceti (coarse), valued at 9-14 [pounds sterling] per cwt.

(3) In addition, 47 tuns of "seal oyl," valued at 15 [pounds sterling] per tun.

(4) In addition, 9 tuns of "ordinary" oil, valued at 24-30 [pounds sterling] per tun, i.e. at least twice the value of train oil.

(5) Listed as "ordinary" oil, but value, 15 [pounds sterling] per tun, was similar to that of train oil.

(6) In addition, 6 cwt, 2 qtr, 26 lb of spermaceti, valued at 5:10-8:10 [pounds sterling] per cwt.

Table 12.--Whale products from Pennsylvania imported by Great Britain (London and outports combined), 1696-1734. Source: CUST 2 and 3, Public Record Office, Lond.
                             Oil       Baleen
Period(1)                 (U.S. gal)    (lb)

25 Sep 1696-25 Sep 1697     1,978          0
25 Sep 1697-25 Dec 1698         0          0
1698-1699                       0        560
1699-1700                     378          0
1700-1701                     267          0
1701-1702 to 1703-1704          0          0
[No data for 1704-1705]
1705-1706                     126         28
1706-1707 to 1708-1709          0          0
1709-1710                       0         84
1710-1711                       0          0
[No data for 1711-1712]
1712-1713                       0          0
1713-1714                     190          0
1714-1715                   1,009      1,122
1715-1716                   2,270          0
1716-1717 to 1717-1718          0          0
1718-1719                   2,270          0
1719-1720                   1,198          0
1720-1721                   1,797          0
1721-1722                     820          0
1722-1723                   1,980        392
1723-1724                   8,008          0
1724-1725                   7,818        505
1725-1726                   3,759        111
[No data for 1726-1727]
1727-1728                       0          0
1728-1729                      64          0
1729-1730                       0          0
1730-1731                     383          0
1731-1732                     694          0
1732-1733                       0          0
1733-1734                     252          0

                                         Value of
                          Value of oil    baleen
                            ([pounds     ([pounds
                           sterling]     sterling]
Period(1)                    :s:d)         :s:d)

25 Sep 1696-25 Sep 1697         87:7:5           0
25 Sep 1697-25 Dec 1698              0           0
1698-1699                            0     28:15:0
1699-1700                       18:0:0           0
1700-1701                      14:13:3           0
1701-1702 to 1703-1704               0           0
[No data for 1704-1705]
1705-1706                       15:0:0       2:0:0
1706-1707 to 1708-1709               0           0
1709-1710                            0       6:0:0
1710-1711                            0           0
[No data for 1711-1712]
1712-1713                            0           0
1713-1714                        9:0:0           0
1714-1715                       48:0:0     80:2:10
1715-1716                      108:0:0           0
1716-1717 to 1717-1718               0           0
1718-1719                      108:0:0           0
1719-1720                       57:0:0           0
1720-1721                       85:4:8           0
1721-1722                       39:0:0           0
1722-1723                       94:0:0      28:0:0
1723-1724                      381:0:0           0
1724-1725                      372:0:0      36:1:5
1725-1726                     178:0:10      7:18:6
[No data for 1726-1727]
1727-1728                            0           0
1728-1729                        3:0:0           0
1729-1730                            0           0
1730-1731                      17:13:4           0
1731-1732                       33:0:0           0
1732-1733                            0           0
1733-1734                       12:0:0           0


(1) From 25 Dec. 1698, all periods covered are Christmas to Christmas.

The quantities of oil and baleen imported from New Providence, the Bermudas, and the West Indies or obtained as "prize goods" were so small in most years as to be negligible (Table 13). In contrast, very large amounts of "train oil" or blubber, and in a few years some baleen as well, were imported from Newfoundland (Table 13). Some (unknown) proportion of the products from Newfoundland could have come from right whales, but much of the train oil and blubber could as easily have been from seals and from whales other than right whales. For some years, the lists show hundreds or thousands of sealskins to have been imported from Newfoundland in addition to the oil. Some Boston merchants, at least in 1734, bought whale oil from Nantucket sloops operating in Newfoundland waters, then shipped this oil directly to England to avoid paying English taxes on colonial vessels (E. A. Little, in litt., 17 August 1991). Nantucket vessels certainly hunted sperm, humpback, and right whales in Newfoundland waters during the 1750's and 1760's (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986b, their Table 1), but we do not know enough about the identity, labeling, and routing of products to comment on how the oil and baleen would have been registered by British customs. If any of the oil, blubber, or baleen imported from Newfoundland during the late 1600's and early 1700's (Table 13) was from right whales, this would mean that our removal estimates based on customs data (see Estimates of Catch from Customs Data, below) are negatively biased.

Table 13.--Whale products from New Providence, the Bermudas, the West Indies, Newfoundland (probably including seal oil--see footnote 3), and "prize goods" (obtained from seized vessels) declared through British customs at London and outports, 1696-1734. Source: CUST 2 and 3, Public Record Office, Kew.
                              Oil        Blubber     Baleen
Area/period(1)            (U.S. gal)    (U.S. gal)    (lb)

New Providence
  25 Mar.-25 Sept. 1697        31
Bermudas
  25 Sept. 1697-25
    Sept. 1698                 25                     490
  1698-1699                 3,087
  1710-1711                    63
  1714-1715                   630
  1716-1717                   252
  1719-1720                 2,546
  1720-1721                 1,512
  1721-1722                 1,027
  1730-1731                10,836
West Indies
  1722-1723                   315
  1723-1724                    42
  1729-1730(2)                315
Newfoundland(3)
  25 Sept. 1696-
    25 Mar. 1697           70,812
  25 Mar. 1697-
    25 Sept. 1697          40,113       35,280
  25 Sept. 1697-
    25 Sept. 1698          70,969
  25 Sept. 1698-
    25 Dec. 1698          194,638
  1696-1699               325,147 3/4      252
  1699-1700               228,254 1/2    1,323
  1700-1701               218,319 1/2
  1701-1702               126,681 3/4
  1702-1703                 7,173
  1703-1704               211,308 1/2      126
  1705-1706               189,629 1/2       94 1/2    420
  1706-1707               115,930 1/2      229
  1707-1708               113,819 1/2
  1706-1709               201,657

                                               Oil
Area/period(1)            Area/period(1)    (U.S. gal)

New Providence            1709-1710         212,217
  25 Mar.-25 Sept. 1697   1710-1711         144,855
Bermudas                  1712-1713         195,253 1/2
  25 Sept. 1697-25        1713-1714         138,308 3/4
    Sept. 1698            1714-1715         162,993
  1698-1699               1715-1716         102,196
  1710-1711               1716-1717         121,910 1/2
  1714-1715               1717-1718         149,637
  1716-1717               1718-1719         123,589
  1719-1720               1719-1720         193,296
  1720-1721               1720-1721         249,964
  1721-1722               1721-1722         296,185
  1730-1731               1722-1723         199,878
West Indies               1723-1724         304,028
  1722-1723               1724-1725         234,203
  1723-1724               1725-1726         166,472
  1729-1730(2)            1727-1728         409,991
Newfoundland(3)           1728-1729         452,947
  25 Sept. 1696-          1729-1730         339,430
    25 Mar. 1697          1730-1731         361,598
  25 Mar. 1697-           1731-1732         642,881
    25 Sept. 1697         1732-1733(4)      444,290
  25 Sept. 1697-          1733-1734         464,013
    25 Sept. 1698         Prize Goods
  25 Sept. 1698-          25 Sept. 1696-
    25 Dec. 1698            25 Mar. 1697      3,337
  1696-1699               25 Mar. 1697-
  1699-1700                 25 Sept. 1697     1,197
  1700-1701               25 Sept. 1696-
  1701-1702                 25 Dec. 1698
  1702-1703               1701-1702              31 1/2
  1703-1704               1702-1703          33,095 3/4
  1705-1706               1705-1706             994
  1706-1707               1708-1709
  1707-1708               1709-1710          22,757
  1706-1709

                           Blubber     Baleen
Area/period(1)            (U.S. gal)    (lb)

New Providence
  25 Mar.-25 Sept. 1697
Bermudas
  25 Sept. 1697-25
    Sept. 1698
  1698-1699
  1710-1711
  1714-1715
  1716-1717
  1719-1720                               168
  1720-1721
  1721-1722
  1730-1731
West Indies
  1722-1723
  1723-1724                                84
  1729-1730(2)
Newfoundland(3)               252          53
  25 Sept. 1696-                          133
    25 Mar. 1697                          377
  25 Mar. 1697-                           406
    25 Sept. 1697                       1,363
  25 Sept. 1697-            5,544         288
    25 Sept. 1698
  25 Sept. 1698-
    25 Dec. 1698                          560
  1696-1699
  1699-1700                               174
  1700-1701
  1701-1702                 6,552
  1702-1703
  1703-1704                            11,977
  1705-1706
  1706-1707                               383
  1707-1708
  1706-1709


(1) From 25 Dec. 1698, periods covered are Christmas to Christmas.

(2) In addition, 88 oz of ambergris.

(3) Sealskins were also declared from Newfoundland in some years: 1708-1,648; 1710-881; 1712-664; 1714-1,405; 1715-145; 1716-750; 1717-76; 1719-3,280; 1720-3,280 (22,743 gal seal oil); 1721-3,223; 1722-3,005 (92,043 gal seal oil); 1723-4,679; 1724-3,192 (61,278 gal seal oil); 1725-470 (87,885 gal seal oil); 1727-2,628 (32,413 gal seal oil); 1728-1,875; 1729-7,025 (49,432 gal seal oil); 1730-567 (52,321 gal seal oil); 1733-1,420. (The year refers to the period beginning with that year.)

(4) In addition, 1,437 lb of ambergris.

Whale products imported from the American colonies before about 1715 would have come almost entirely from right whales. A small part of the production probably came from naturally stranded whales and perhaps an occasional sperm, humpback, gray, or pilot whale, Globicephala sp. For the years after 1715, the attribution becomes somewhat more complicated, as whaling from sloops extended the whalers' range of operations offshore. Increasing amounts of oil from other species, especially the sperm whale, are likely to have been mixed in the returns. However, the sloops of 25 tons from Nantucket initially went offshore only to Nantucket Shoals and might not have taken many sperm whales before the late 1720's (Little, 1988). In spite of its different properties, sperm oil usually was not distinguished in commerce from right whale or humpback oil before about 1750, by which time its superiority over mysticete oils as an illuminant had become widely recognized. "Thereafter, the two kinds of oil--sperm and whale--would be distinguished in the market place, each being sold as a separate commodity and priced accordingly" (Kugler, 1980:5).

If the catch composition changed greatly between 1696 and 1734, particularly with an increasing proportion of sperm whales, we would expect the ratio of oil (gallons) to baleen (1b) to have increased with time. A regression of the ratio of oil to baleen against period, however, shows no significant trend (Table 10: P = 0.49; df = 31; Table 11: P = 0.43; df = 24; Table 12: P = 0.41, df = 2). The domestic (i.e. within the colonies) consumption of sperm oil for candle-making (Fig. 14) could have been proportionately greater than that of whale oil. If so, the oil:baleen ratio could be a misleading and poor index of changing catch composition.

[Figure 14 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Bowheads are the only whales other than right whales that were valuable sources of baleen during the 17th and early 18th centuries. The nearest grounds where American east-coast whalers could have encountered bowheads would have been along the coast of Labrador and in the Strait of Belle Isle. Much of the American whaling on those grounds took place during May-October (Reeves and Mitchell 1986b, their Table 1) which probably would have been largely out of phase with the bowheads' presence there (Moore and Reeves, 1993). Starbuck's (1878:168) reference to a New England whaling voyage to Davis Strait in 1732 is the earliest record of American participation in Arctic bowhead whaling. We thus assume that the baleen figures in the British customs records before 1732 mainly represent catches of right whales. Occasional references to oil and baleen from Hudson Bay and Greenland do appear in the British customs records, but we have ignored these in order to avoid mixing bowhead products in our catch estimations.

Drift Whales

The subject of drift whales arises frequently in the literature of colonial whaling. Drift whales were whales that died at sea and were found afloat off shore or stranded onshore. Whales that came ashore alive ("live stranded") probably were also considered drift whales. Ownership of drift whale carcasses was often contentious, and this caused them to be mentioned in court and tax records (Pulsifer, 1861; Allen, 1916). In some places, such as Sandwich in 1702, drift whales in their entirety were donated to the church (Freeman, 1862:85). A part of each drift whale was appropriated for the ministry at Eastham beginning in 1662 (Freeman, 1862:362).

Little and Andrews (1982) proposed that on Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and certain parts of the mainland coast, Indians practiced "drift whaling" before the arrival of Europeans. By drift whaling they meant an organized effort to find and process the carcasses of stranded whales. In especially favorable areas, "drift whales were so numerous that no need had arisen to go to sea to kill them" (Little and Andrews, 1982:4). Whales of many species, not only right whales, would then, as now, have come ashore from time to time in the absence of active whaling. For present purposes, it is important to separate whales that came ashore due to natural causes from those that were killed or injured, but not secured, by whalers. The latter would be considered part of fishing mortality while the former would be part of natural mortality.

Several authors have concluded that a high proportion of the drift whales mentioned in early records were casualties of whaling. For example, Freeman (1862:50) noted concerning drift whales in Cape Cod Bay: "So numerous were whales in the Bay, and such was the activity of the whalemen, that instances were frequent of whales, escaping wounded from their pursuers and dying subsequently, being washed to the shores." Allen (1916:145-154) and Little (1981) also concluded that most drift whales in New England during the 17th century had been harpooned but not recovered at sea. In our tables of catches, we did not count all drift whales as whaler kills. Rather, we counted only those whales for which there was evidence suggesting that they had been struck; for example, when a salvaged carcass was claimed by a whaler, or when a harpoon was still imbedded. This procedure probably caused some whales to be excluded from our catch summary even though whalers killed or mortally wounded them. This effect is probably offset, to some extent, by the occasional inadvertent inclusion of whales that were not right whales. There was no way of identifying what proportion of oil and baleen included in the customs records came from drift whales.

Total Catches From Literature Sources

The total catch of right whales in the area between Delaware and Maine, based solely on the literature reviewed for this paper (Tables 3-9) and by Reeves and Mitchell (1986a, their Table 1), was about 750-950 during 1620-1924. The low end of this range was obtained by summing only those takes that were considered "certain" to have been of right whales. The high end was obtained by summing all takes tabulated, including those with uncertain species identifications. In accounting for the catches in Reeves and Mitchell (1986a, their Table 1), we used their conversion of oil returns to whales landed, on the basis of 36 barrels per whale (values indicated in parentheses in the "Catch" column of their table) rather than the 44 barrels used in the present paper (see below).

Estimates of Catch From Customs Data

Annual catches during the period 1697-1734, by region, were estimated from British customs data (Table 14). In most years, the estimates based on oil production were much higher than those based on baleen production. Because of the possibility that oil from cetaceans other than right whales was routinely included in the oil production values, it is probably reasonable to regard the baleen-based estimates as the more accurate (i.e. less biased) estimates of the right whale catch.

Table 14.--Estimates of right whale catches in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, 1697-1734, based on British customs records (Tables 10-12). Conversion factors are: oil - 1,386 U.S. gal (44 barrels) per whale (see Table 2); baleen--647 lb per whale. Note that all estimates were rounded down to the nearest integer. See text for a discussion on interpreting the estimates. (0 = none exported; [0] = authors' inference).
                           Right whale catches

                        New England     New York

Year(1)                Oil   Baleen   Oil   Baleen

1697                    23       13    21     13
1698                    25      [0]   [0]      0
1699                    25        0     1    [0]
1700                    76       21    11      0
1701                    65       36    11      4
1702                    87       97   [0]    [0]
1703                    47       25     8      8
1704                    39       55     2      1
[No data for 1705]
1706                     2        2   [0]    [0]
1707                    95        5    23      2
1708                   109       24     7    [0]
1709                    47       19     8      9
1710                    72       28     7     72
1711                    64       26     7      2
[No data for 1712]
1713                    50       45   [0]      6
1714                    83       40     4      6
1715                   140       54    11      4
1716                   125       88     4      1
1717                    65       22     2    [0]
1718                   107       26    15     25
1719                    96       53    11      9
1720                   130       75    14      6
1721                   174       62    11      4
1722                   109       45     1      4
1723                   142       65     8      3
1724                   147      140   [0]     18
1725                   128      104     1      2
1726                   128      106     6      9
[No data for 1727]
1728                   187       95     1    [0]
1729                   122       43     1      0
1730                   186      139     1      1
1731                   130       61     0    [0]
1732                   169       42     1      0
1733                   168       70     3      2
1734                   248      105     2      2
Total                3,610    1,831   203    213

                          Right whale catches

                     Pennsylvania        Total

Year(1)              Oil   Baleen     Oil   Baleen

1697                  1      0         45       26
1698                  0      0         25      [0]
1699                  0      1         26        1
1700                 [0]     0         87       21
1701                 [0]     0         76       40
1702                  0      0         87       97
1703                  0      0         55       33
1704                  0      0         41       56
[No data for 1705]
1706                 [0]    [0]         2        2
1707                  0      0        118        7
1708                  0      0        116       24
1709                  0      0         55       28
1710                  0     [0]        79      100
1711                  0      0         71       28
[No data for 1712]
1713                  0      0         50       51
1714                 [0]     0         87       46
1715                  1      2        152       60
1716                  2      0        131       89
1717                  0      0         67       22
1718                  0      0        122       51
1719                  2      0        109       62
1720                  1      0        145       81
1721                  1      0        186       66
1722                  1      0        111       49
1723                  1      1        151       69
1724                  6      0        153      158
1725                  6      1        135      107
1726                  3     [0]       137      115
[No data for 1727]
1728                  0      0        188       95
1729                 [0]     0        123       43
1730                  0      0        187      140
1731                 [0]     0        130       61
1732                  1      0        171       42
1733                  0      0        171       72
1734                 [0]     0        250      107
Total                26      5      3,839    2,049


(1) The year indicated is always the second of a pair; e.g. 1697 represents 1696-1697 from Tables 10-12.

The yields of oil and baleen for six whaling areas are shown in Table 2. A one-way Analysis of Variance comparing oil yield per whale between areas indicates a significant difference ([F.sub.5,131] = 9.53, Pr(F) [is less than] 0.01). A similar analysis using the baleen yield gives [F.sub.4,35] = 0.46, Pr(F) = 0.76 (0.67, excluding Cape Farewell). Thus, baleen yield is less variable than oil yield. The baleen sample size was only 40, however, compared to 137 for oil. Due to the difficulty in stratifying the data, we used the overall mean of 44 barrels per whale to estimate catches from oil production.

The variability of the estimated total catches for the period 1696-1734 was calculated by bootstrapping the oil and baleen yield data summarized in Table 2. Table 15 gives the bootstrap estimates of catch by area (New England, New York, or Pennsylvania) and whale product (oil or baleen). The bootstrap means are similar to the estimates given in the last row of Table 14. The 2.5% and 97.5% quantiles of the estimated catch distribution are approximate lower and upper 95% confidence limits for the estimated catches given in the last row of Table 14. Although similar confidence limits could have been calculated on a yearly basis, we have shown only those for all years combined in Table 15. The quantiles and, thus, the 95% confidence intervals, were derived by assuming that the only source of variability in the catch estimates was in the oil and baleen yield per whale data. We treated the total oil and baleen production figures as known constants, but, as mentioned earlier, there is some (unquantifiable) uncertainty in these values as well due to the possible mixing of whale products from other species and from drift whales that died from causes other than whaling.

Table 15.--Estimated catches (bootstrap mean) and estimated quantiles of the distribution of right whale catches, 1696-1734, based on estimates of the oil and baleen production data from Tables 10-12 and the oil and baleen yield per whale data summarized in Table 2. Bootstrap sample size = 5,000.
                                     Bootstrap
Area               Whale products      mean

New England    5,007,942 U.S. gal      3,594
New York         283,924 U.S. gal        204
Pennsylvania      35,261 U.S. gal         25
New England    1,183,417 lb baleen     1,827
New York         139,483 lb baleen       215
Pennsylvania       2,802 lb baleen         4

                      Quantiles

Area            2.5%     50%   97.5%

New England    3,309   3,590   3,909
New York         188     204     222
Pennsylvania      23      25      28
New England    1,624   1,830   2,064
New York         191     216     243
Pennsylvania       4       4       5


Loss Rates

Hunting loss occurs in virtually all whaling operations, so catch statistics need to be corrected to account for animals killed but not secured. In a protected area such as Cape Cod Bay, the prospects of a lost whale's being found were reasonably good. Winthrop (1892:55), for example, noted that the whalers at Sandwich were confident that a lost whale, one of three they killed in one day, would "drive on shore in the bay." At Long Island, extraordinary efforts were made to secure whales that sank, and a network of informants along the island's south shore stood to be rewarded for helping to recover a lost whale (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a).

We used a loss rate factor (LRF) of 1.2 (meaning 1 of every 6 whales killed or mortally wounded was lost) for correcting catch data from U.S. shore whaling. This is lower than the LRF's calculated for 19th century pelagic whaling (1.25-1.57 by Reeves and Mitchell, 1986b) but consistent with our impression of shore whaling at Long Island (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a) and the Outer Banks of North Carolina (Reeves and Mitchell, 1988). Best and Ross (1986) also used 1.2 as an LRF for pre-modern shore whaling for right whales in southern Africa, even though their data suggested that almost as many whales were struck and lost as were taken. In all cases, it was assumed that some struck whales survived and recovered from their wounds.

By using the same LRF for all areas and times, no allowance is made for differences in technique or technology, benthic topography, currents, weather, whale behavior, or other factors that could have affected the loss rate. The incompleteness of catch records and the many other uncertainties in the data make us feel that any fine-tuning of the loss rate would give a false impression of precise knowledge. What is important, given our ultimate objective of obtaining a minimum estimate of historical population size, is that we apply a conservative (i.e. negatively biased) loss rate and minimize the risk of upward bias in estimating removals. By including some drift whales in the totals of secured catch, we introduce a small amount of upward bias in the removal estimates. However, since under-reporting of the catch is presumed to be substantial, this problem can be considered trivial.

Total Kill

By applying the LRF of 1.2 to the catch estimates above for the period 1620-1924, we estimate the total kill of right whales from the literature as 883-1,118. The estimated catch of 2,049 whales between 1697 and 1734, based on amounts of baleen shipped to England, becomes 2,459 whales when adjusted in the same way, while the estimate for the same period based on oil imports is 3,839, adjusted to 4,607 to account for losses. If Best's (1987) estimates of average yield (67 bbl and 563 lb) were applied to these same production data, the total estimates from baleen (2,355 raw, 2,826 adjusted) and oil (2,521 raw, 3,025 adjusted) would be in closer agreement.

Whaling Seasons

Figure 15 shows the cumulative records of the right whale's occurrence, by month, using data from Reeves and Mitchell (1986a, b, 1988) and this paper. The sample consists of some 305 records for which the month was known; 660 available records could not be used because the month was not known. Each whale represents a "record"; for example, if 2 whales were seen together in one sighting in January, we counted the event as 2 records for that month. No distinction was made between whales seen and whales taken.

[Figure 15 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Discussion

Chronology of Whaling Effort

In her study of the role of Native Americans (Indians) in the development of shore whaling at Nantucket, Little (1981) estimated the years when shore whaling (as distinct from drift whaling) began along various parts of the east coast: 1690 for Nantucket, 1688 "or just before" for Cape Cod, 1667 for Long Island, and 1680 for Cape May. Her starting dates for Cape Cod and Long Island are too late, according to the sources cited earlier in this paper. Whaling was underway in Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Narragansett bays well before 1688. In fact, shore whaling had become well established and profitable in these areas by that time. Allen (1908:314) gave starting dates of 1631 for Massachusetts Bay, 1652 for Martha's Vineyard, and 1672 for Nantucket. There is also no reason to suppose that Long Island shore whaling began as late as 1667. Whaling companies had been formed in at least three localities at the east end during the 1650's (Ross, 1902). Whaling along the New Jersey coast certainly began before 1680, although the settlement at Cape May apparently was not developed as a whaling center until the early 1680's.

Little (1981) also estimated the peak years of shore whaling at the various sites: Nantucket in 1726, Cape Cod in 1714-1724, Long Island in 1687-1707, and Cape May in 1707-1714. While acknowledging Macy's (1835) claim that the record-high catch of right whales occurred at Nantucket in 1726, it must also be acknowledged that shore whaling had been intensive on the island well before this time. The catch of an estimated 15 right whales by six sloops in 1715 (see above) suggests that the Nantucket whalemen were already expanding their effort offshore to supplement the shore-based catch.

Our findings for Long Island (this paper; Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a) agree reasonably well with Little's (1981) conclusion that the peak in whaling effort and catch occurred there at or shortly after the beginning of the 18th century. The largest volume of whale oil was exported from New York to Great Britain in 1706-07 (31,980 U.S. gallons), and the largest amount of baleen was exported in 1709-10 (46,430 lb). Little's estimate of 84 whales as a maximum 1-year catch is somewhat more than our estimate of 71 whales based on the baleen exported in 1709-10. Little reasoned that 28 whaling companies caught an average of 3 whales each in a good year, for a total of 84, and she noted that this number of whales, at 50 barrels each, would produce 4,200 barrels of oil. This is consistent with the return of 4,000 barrels listed for 1707 by Cornbury (1708:59). The average yield for right whales killed off Long Island was about 36 barrels (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a) rather than 50, so the secured catch in 1707 was probably more than 100 whales. An aspect of Little's analysis that is certainly in error is her statement that Long Island shore whaling terminated by 1717. Although the catch might have begun to decline in the 1720's (Table 11), Long Island shore whaling continued for another two centuries.

Little (1981) concluded that Cape May whaling began to reach a peak just as Long Island whaling began to decline. This idea is consistent with the fact that many of the Cape May whalers were immigrants from Long Island. However, there is considerable evidence suggesting that Cape May whaling was already flourishing in the 1690's. While New Jersey shore whaling certainly had declined by 1734, when Little considered it finished, it continued on some parts of the coast for another century.

Overall, whaling for right whales appears to have been particularly intensive in the eastern United States between about 1685 and 1730. During this time, whales were hunted from shore and vessels in much of New England, Long Island (New York), New Jersey, and North Carolina. Shore whaling was underway for several decades before 1685 and continued for nearly two centuries after 1730. The trend toward distant-water whaling by American whalers in the late 18th and 19th centuries, and the transition to sperm, bowhead, and humpback whales as target species, was a reflection of decreased right whale abundance worldwide but did not necessarily give right whales a reprieve along the U.S. east coast. Even as the pelagic whalers turned their attention to other species, they continued to take right whales encountered during cruises as well as coming into or departing pons.

The War of Independence (1776-1783) is said to have lessened whaling effort, and in turn decreased the pressure on whale stocks. Stackpole (1972:4), referring to the years immediately following the war, stated: "Due to the war years the number of whales along the coast had increased, not having been hunted, and became easy prey for the newcomers. This brought a glut on the American market, especially in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and Charleston...." Although to exactly which "coast" Stackpole's remark applied is unclear, whaling all along the American east coast presumably was interrupted by the hostilities (Starbuck, 1878:177). Thus, the stocks of right, humpback, and sperm whales in the western North Atlantic may have profited from the war to some degree. However, the stocks in distant seas would seem to have gained even more of a respite. The Nantucket whaling fleet had already extended its activity far to the north (Davis Strait, Strait of Belle Isle, Gulf of St. Lawrence) and south (Brazil Banks, Falkland Islands) before the war (Stackpole, 1953), but long voyages would have become virtually impossible during it. Starbuck (1878:177-179) listed a number of bonds on whaling vessels as having been filed with the Massachusetts state treasurer during the period 1775-1783, but he had little information on their returns or on where they whaled during this period.

In 1779 or 1780 the whalers of Nantucket obtained permits from the British military authorities in New York "for a few vessels, about fifteen, to whale on our Coast, which were successful" (Rotch, 1916:15). Apparently many of these vessels cruised "in Boston Bay and its vicinity" (Rotch, 1916:26). Twenty-four such permits were secured the following year (Rotch, 1916:27), and permits for 35 whaling vessels were granted by the Continental Congress to Nantucketers shortly before the treaty of peace was signed in 1783 (Rotch, 1916:34). It can only be assumed that what remained of Nantucket's whaling fleet after the first several years of war with Great Britain cruised at every opportunity in local waters. This would have meant that, during the war years, whaling activity was concentrated on the coastal stocks of right and humpback whales.

Whaling Seasons and Inferences About Whale Migratory Behavior

Allen's (1916:140) conclusion that right whales were "practically absent" from New England between early June and October is generally borne out by the historical sources that we reviewed (Fig. 15). Shore whaling in Connecticut began as early as December and apparently finished by the end of March (Table 6). Although a "straggling" right whale could be encountered off Provincetown at any time, they were most common there in late April and early May (Atwood in J. A. Allen, 1869:203). Allen (1916:143) proposed that, after May, the right whale population moved "off the Grand Banks and thence northeasterly, even to Iceland." He did not mention that right whales congregated during summer in the lower Bay of Fundy and on the Scotian Shelf as they are known to do today (Arnold and Gaskin, 1972; Kraus et al., 1982; Mitchell et al., 1986a; Stone et al., 1988). In fact, there is no certain evidence that these areas had the same relative importance to right whales in Allen's and earlier times as they appear to have at present. Allen's speculation that at least part of the population moved east of the Grand Bank and possibly even to Denmark Strait (Allen, 1972:502) is, however, consistent with some of the whaling data (Schevill and Moore, 1983; Reeves and Mitchell, 1986b), as well as with recently documented movements by individual right whales (Knowlton et al., 1992).

The timing of right whale occurrence off New England and Long Island was roughly coincident. On Long Island, whaling usually began in October or November and lasted until April or early May (Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a). Summer records are almost as rare for Long Island as for New England. Although they whaled through the winter, Long Island whalemen did not consider the whales to be overwintering in their area. Rather, they believed that the animals were always moving through it, remaining in one spot for no more than a few days (similar to the spring observations off Cape Cod by Watkins and Schevill, 1982). At least toward the end of the 19th century, late winter was considered the best season for whaling at Long Island. At this time, the whales were believed by the whalers to be on a northward migration (Edwards and Rattray, 1932:18).

By all accounts, the whaling off New Jersey and in Delaware Bay was, like that in New England and New York, prosecuted principally during winter and early spring. The Dutch whale fishery in Delaware Bay lasted from December to March (Parr, 1969: 112). Thomas Leaming's 17th-century account refers to whaling as a winter and early spring activity, the season being finished by no later than the first of May (Beesley, 1857:175-176). Lewis Cresse's diary indicates that whaling began as early as the end of January or early in February and lasted until as late as the middle of April, at least during the 18th century (Table 9). Watson (1855, II:547) indicated that February and March were the peak months of whaling at Long Beach Island. All of the confirmed right whale records in Table 8 that include the month of occurrence are for March, April, or May, with one exception (November). The evidence suggests that some right whales over-wintered in Delaware Bay and off New Jersey but that their numbers increased in February and March, perhaps as animals that wintered to the southward or far offshore began arriving on their passage to the north.

Catch Levels and Trends

To Mid 1800's

Any conclusions about the magnitude of removals from the right whale population prior to about the mid 1800's should be made with great caution. The records are far too fragmentary to support reliable quantitative assessments. The surviving sample of pelagic whaling journals and logbooks for the 18th century is small (Fonda, 1969; Sherman et al., 1986). This is the time when right whales may still have been relatively abundant on some grounds (e.g. east of the Grand Bank, in the Strait of Belle Isle and Gulf of St. Lawrence, and perhaps along the Labrador coast). Other primary sources, such as the Whalemen's Shipping List (WSL, 1843-1914), the Dennis Wood (N.d.) abstracts, Starbuck (1878), and the Maury (1852) and Townsend (1935) charts, begin their detailed coverage of American pelagic whaling in the 1780's or later. There are very few good primary sources of data for the critical period between about 1715 and 1760. We do know, however, that people on Cape Cod actively drove blackfish (pilot whales) in the fall and winter and that they whaled in sloops far offshore in the spring and summer, taking mainly sperm whales (Dudley, 1896). With respect to shore whaling, a much higher catch was probably made between 1650 and the early 1800's than our tables show (including those in this paper as well as those in Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a and 1988). The secondary sources, as well as a few primary sources, providing information on shore-based catches during the 17th and 18th centuries do so in a completely unsystematic way. For example, while Winthrop (1892:55) stated that whalers killed 29 whales in Cape Cod Bay in one day prior to 27 January 1700, he provided no information about whales killed on other days that winter. The context suggests that the season's total catch was higher than 29: "... all the boates round the bay killed twenty nine whales in one day, as som that came this week report; as I came by when I was there last one company had killed three, two of which lay on Sandwich beach, which they kild the day before, and reckned they had kild another the same day, which they expected would drive on shore in the bay." It can be inferred that the 3 killed on the day of Winthrop's own visit to Sandwich probably were not part of the 29. Considering that the peak months of the right whale's occurrence off the Massachusetts coast are April and May (Schevill et al., 1986) and that Winthrop's letter was written in late January, perhaps more whales were killed in the bay later in the season. It is not even possible to be certain that 29 was the greatest one-day catch in Cape Cod Bay during the height of shore whaling there, although Winthrop described the winter season of 1699-1700 as "favorable." Considering the amount of whaling effort required to kill 29 whales in one day, it is clear that substantial whaling activity occurred at Cape Cod in the years immediately before and after 1700 (cf. Table 10).

Prices paid in England for whale oil and baleen were fairly stable during the period 1697-1734. Whale oil remained in the range (usually toward the high end) of 10-14 [pounds sterling] sterling per tun, while baleen began at 3 [pounds sterling] in 1697 and increased to 7-9 [pounds sterling] per cwt by 1700, where it remained through 1734 (unpubl. data from Public Record Office). Some of the variability within these ranges may have been due to differences in quality of the merchandise on its arrival in London rather than to changes in valuation through time. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we make the simplest assumption that whaling effort was constant or increasing over the period for which customs data are available. Production statistics, and their interplay with prices, may therefore serve as reasonable indices for trends in whale availability.

However strong the incentives were for the colonists to send their whale products to England (Kugler, 1980), the entire colonial production would not have been exported each year. There was some demand for these products in the colonies themselves--"country consumption" as Macy (1835) referred to it. At least small amounts were also shipped to the West Indies (Macy, 1835). However, there is no sensible way of adjusting the production figures to account for domestic consumption or exports to destinations other than England.

One factor that may have influenced the distribution of production levels among states is tax avoidance. As discussed above (see section on New York (Long Island); Headlam, 1930:16), strong dissatisfaction with duties on whales caught in New York waters may have resulted in products being exported instead from Boston (i.e. New England). A sharp, but temporary, decline did occur in imports from New York immediately after 1714-15, but by 1717-18 the returns on oil and baleen were back to earlier levels (Table 11). The exceptionally high returns of oil and baleen for New England in 1714-15 and 1715-16 are consistent with the possibility that Long Island whalemen were smuggling their oil and baleen to Boston rather than paying the taxes in New York. This smuggling, however, was a long-standing practice (Edwards and Rattray, 1932:213-217; Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a), and it probably influenced the New York:New England product ratios in other years as well.

Mid 1800's-20th Century.

The catch record is probably more nearly complete beginning in 1822, when the Nantucket Inquirer started publication, than it is for the years 1734-1822. From 1822 on, a large percentage of the shore-based catches made in New England and New York probably would have been reported in a whaling-town newspaper (e.g. Nantucket's Inquirer or Journal, Sag Harbor's Corrector, New Bedford's Whalemen's Shipping List). This assumption, however, is speculative. Only about one-third of the dated records given by Allen (1916:141) are from years before 1822, but this should not be interpreted to mean that twice as many observations of right whales were made in the century following 1821 than during the two centuries before then. The increased frequency of Allen's reports over time (for example, 9+ records for 1800-1850 vs. 63+ for 1850-1900 fide Schevill et al., 1986), may be an artifact of documentation factors, at least to some extent. Allen's historical record, however "painstakingly compiled" (Schevill et al., 1986) may be considered little more than a collection of random hints at what occurred in colonial and early post-colonial times. It cannot be compared, at face value, to Schevill et al.'s documented record of observations over a 27-year period (1955-1981). The suggestion that "the population of right whales passing near Cape Cod is at worst only slightly smaller now than it was in the 17th century" (Schevill et al., 1986) is not supported by the data, particularly in view of the large amounts of oil and baleen exported to England during the early 18th century (Reeves, 1991; Reeves et al.(2); Tables 10-13).

The apparent increase in catches of right whales between about 1840 and 1890 (Tables 3, 4, 7, 8; Reeves and Mitchell, 1986a, b, 1988) is probably due, at least in part, to the steadily improving documentation over this period (more newspapers extant, larger samples of logbooks and journals available, etc.). It also may be due, at least in part, to stock recovery as suggested by Allen (1972:503). The period was concurrent with the initiation and collapse of the North Pacific pelagic right whale fishery in the 1840's-1850's (Scarff, 1986), and the resultant search by New England whalers for new whaling opportunities. In addition to exploring the bowhead alternative in the 1850's-1860's, American pelagic whalers discovered a small winter concentration of right whales off northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in the mid-1870's in what is now known to be a calving ground, then hunted it intensively through the early 1880's (Reeves and Mitchell,. 1986b, 1988).

It is also possible that improvements in gear would have made right whales easier to approach and secure. For example, the toggle iron, introduced in the middle of the 19th century, was a major innovation which increased whaling efficiency (Lytle, 1984; Mitchell et al., 1986b). Later, steam-powered vessels were used to catch and tow fin and humpback whales off Cape Cod in the 1880's. These factors would have increased fishing power and reduced the loss rate. The use of shoulder guns and to a lesser extent darting guns in some fisheries in the last half of the 19th century may have had the opposite effect.

Early Population Size

It is known that in some years during the 16th century Basque whalers shipped 14,000-18,000 barrels of whale oil from their camps along the Strait of Belle Isle (Barkham, 1984). Assuming that Basque barrels contained 56 U.S. gallons (i.e. 211 liters,fide Proulx, 1993:63), that the average yield for right whales was 1,386 U.S. gallons (44 standard barrels at 31.5 U.S. gallons per barrel--this paper), and that half the oil was from right whales (Cumbaa, 1986), this production would suggest a landed catch in the order of 283-364 right whales per year. Aguilar (1986) estimated that the Basques took 300-500 right whales per year (including an uncertain number of bowheads) between 1530 and 1610, but he refrained from attempting to estimate the initial stock size. It is nevertheless obvious from these Basque whaling data that at least a few thousand right whales inhabited the northern portions of the western North Atlantic stock's range in the early 1500's.

Our data on catches in the northeastern United States after the mid-1600's allow us to make a cumulative catch estimate of the number of right whales present south of Cabot Strait as late as the 1720's. (A cumulative catch estimate assumes that net recruitment is zero so that the original population at the beginning of a short time period such as a decade is the number of whales killed plus the number remaining (Woodby and Botkin, 1993).) Using only the central estimates of landed catch in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania based on baleen production (Table 14), adjusted for hunting loss by multiplying by 1.2, we estimate that at least 1,128 right whales were killed from 1724 to 1734 (there are no data for 1727). It is reasonable to conclude that a stock of at least 1,100-1,200 right whales still existed in the western North Atlantic in 1724.

It could be argued that by the late 1720's the whaling returns included an increasing amount of oil and baleen from bowheads, although the literature (summarized earlier in this paper) suggests that bowheads were not hunted regularly by New England whalemen until the 1730's. Even if we were to limit our estimate to catches before 1725, there would have had to be more than 1,000 right whales present in the 1690's to support the documented take levels in the subsequent three decades (Tables 10-14).

Conclusions

Some right whales migrate seasonally between wintering grounds off the southeastern United States and summering grounds off southeastern Canada (Kraus et al., 1986). The whales found in summer near the Cape Farewell Ground in the southern Irminger Sea, in the Labrador Basin, and off Newfoundland and Labrador also belong to the western North Atlantic stock (Knowlton et al., 1992). There is no reason to doubt Aguilar's (1986) contention that the stock of right whales in the Strait of Belle Isle was depleted by 1610. Thus, the population of whales observed by the Plymouth pilgrims at Cape Cod in 1620 (Thacher, 1832:20), and soon thereafter hunted by the colonists along the U.S. east coast, had already been reduced substantially by Basque whaling to the north, since the distribution of right whales was continuous along the North American coast from Labrador to Florida. This stock's history of exploitation along the east coast of the United States dates back to the mid-1600's. We conclude, based on the documented scale of removals during the late 1600's and early 1700's, that right whales were still at least several times more abundant in the western North Atlantic during the mid to late 1600's than they are now.

From the early 1980's to early 1990's, the western North Atlantic population of right whales was thought to be growing at an annual rate of about 2.5% (Knowlton et al., 1994). This is well below the estimated rates of 7% or somewhat higher for several southern right whale populations that have been monitored since the early 1970's (Best, 1993; IWC, In press). Moreover, right whales are still very rare in many areas of the North Atlantic where they were abundant historically, such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Strait of Belle Isle, around Iceland and the British Isles, and the Bay of Biscay. In spite of total protection from whaling since the 1930's, the stock, or stocks, in the North Atlantic have either not recovered or have recovered slowly in comparison with Southern Hemisphere stocks. Many factors may be involved.

Mortality from collisions with vessels and entanglements in fishing gear has certainly contributed to the slowness of recovery in recent decades, if not also earlier this century (Kraus, 1990; Katona and Kraus, 1999). Caswell et al. (1999) report a declining survival probability from 1980 to 1994. Recent analyses have also found a significant linear increase in the mean inter-birth interval from 1980 to the late 1990's (S. D. Kraus, personal commun, in Caswell et al. 1999). It is also possible that the environmental carrying capacity has declined as a result of intensive human use of coastal areas formerly inhabited by right whales (e.g. Delaware Bay, the New York Bight, Boston harbor).

Low abundance could explain the failure to detect and document recovery of severely depleted populations of baleen whales. The North Atlantic right whale population likely was reduced by 1900 to a few individual founders responsible for its survival for generations (Brown, 1991). The small number of whales remaining alive when whaling stopped, before extensive environmental degradation occurred, represents an important factor in the population's slow recovery and low abundance (cf. Schaeff et al., 1997). The difficulty experienced by shore whalers in New England, New York, and New Jersey in finding right whales during the late 1800's and early 1900's attests to the species' scarcity at that time.

Acknowledgments

We appreciate the cooperation of the staffs at the G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum; Old Dartmouth Historical Society, New Bedford Whaling Museum; New Bedford Free Public Library; New London Historical Society; Providence Public Library; Nantucket Atheneum Library; Peter Foulger Museum; New York Historical Society; and American Museum of Natural History.

The assistance of Richard Kugler, Barbara Lipton, James G. Mead, Paul Cyr, Virginia Adams, William Peterson, and Elizabeth Little in guiding us to useful references is especially appreciated. Moira Brown, Laurie Schell, Karen Richardson, and Anne Evely provided assistance at various early stages of this project at the Arctic Biological Station, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, near Montreal. The review of literature was funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, under contract NA85-WC-C-06194.

(1) Recent usage has established Eubalaena as the genus name for the right whales (Schevill, 1986). However, in his list of marine mammals of the world, Rice (1998) reverts to the genus name Balaena, and recognizes two subspecies of right whale, the Northern Hemisphere right whale, B. g. glacialis, and the Southern Hemisphere right whale, B. g. australis.

(2) Reeves, R. R., J. M. Breiwick, and E. Mitchell. 1992. Pre-exploitation abundance of right whales off the eastern United States. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA, Natl. Mar. Fish. Serv., Northeast Fish. Sci. Cent. Ref. Doc. 92-05:5-7.

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Randall R. Reeves is with Okapi Wildlife Associates, 27 Chandler Lane, Hudson, Quebec, J0P 1H0, Canada (rrreeves@total.net). Jeffrey M. Breiwick is with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, NOAA, 7600 Sand Point Way N.E., Seattle, WA 98115 (jeff.breiwick@noaa.gov). Edward D. Mitchell was with the Arctic Biological Station, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada and now is with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007 (edmnhm@ix.netcom.com).
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Author:REEVES, RANDALL R.; BREIWICK, JEFFREY M.; MITCHELL, EDWARD D.
Publication:Marine Fisheries Review
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 1999
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